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zipline_ryan380 karma

I am happy to answer what can go wrong from the software-side of things. For an airplane, basically everything has to go right for it to stay in the air. We've had to teach the planes how to detect when something is wrong and failover to backup systems. A few examples:

  • We have two motors but only typically fly on one. We need to detect when that one has failed, shut it down, and spin up the other.
  • Weather can be super challenging. We have no idea what we're going to face when we fly over the horizon. We've had to design our planes to be stronger and more responsive to fight through the harshest storms. We even account for weather in the design of our flight paths.

zipline_ryan287 karma

What else can go wrong? Basically every component (sensor, motor, control surface, computer, cable) can fail. From software's point of view simply accept this reality and make sure we have complete fault tolerance. We do tons of testing to prove our planes can detect when a component has failed, and make sure they respond accordingly.

For example, at our test sites here in California, we inject faults into real planes as they fly. We'll cut power to one of the computers, short out a communications bus, or unplug the GPS. The plane has redundant computers, comms channels, and GPS, so it can keep flying through these failures.

zipline_ryan150 karma

Wings! We don't fly like a helicopter, but instead like an airplane. This makes our planes light and very efficient, and capable of flying at very high speeds and through very strong winds.

zipline_ryan137 karma

Hey Dr. Blanchet, thanks for the kind words. Can you elaborate what you mean by "embed research into your projects"? From a technical point of view, practically every part of our system is built on the last decade of robotics research and silicone research. From a product point of view, our efforts were actually inspired by the works of a public health researcher in Tanzania who distributed cell phones to rural clinics. This research showed it was very easy to collect real-time info on what medicines were needed, and where they were needed. It also shined a light on how many of these needed medicines were just not acquired in time.

zipline_ryan107 karma

The Gov't of Ghana and Rwanda