Walmart announced big plans for its delivery via drone service by the end of 2022.
The retailer started offering residential drone delivery of consumer goods in Arizona last year. Now, it said it’s expanding its DroneUp delivery network to reach six states by the end of the year. This includes adding 34 network sites across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
Walmart said an expansion of this caliber will give it the “potential” to reach 4 million U.S. households and the ability to deliver over 1 million packages by drone in a year.
Between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., customers will be able to order from tens of thousands of eligible items, such as Tylenol and diapers, for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes. But you might be surprised what Walamrt finds they're ordering.
“After completing hundreds of deliveries within a matter of months across our existing DroneUp hubs, we’ve seen firsthand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast,” said David Guggina, SVP of Innovation and Automation, Walmart U.S. “More importantly, we’ve seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service. In fact, while we initially thought customers would use the service for emergency items, we’re finding they use it for its sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal. Case in point: The top-selling item at one of our current hubs is Hamburger Helper.”
The service charges a delivery fee of $3.99, allowing customers to order items totaling up to 10 pounds.
DroneUp’s delivery operation is achieved through a combination of factors that include airspace-aware dynamic route automation, highly redundant communication and flight management systems, and a crew of skilled operators. As a result, the company can deliver multiple and simultaneous deliveries, day and night, accurately while also ensuring that the delivery is gentle enough for fragile items.
Participating stores will house a DroneUp delivery hub inclusive of a team of certified pilots, operating within FAA guidelines, that safely manage flight operations for deliveries. Once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone, and delivered to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package.
But Walmart packages aren’t the only thing the drones will deliver. The retailer said as it scales its drone infrastructure, DroneUp will offer local businesses and municipalities aerial drone solutions in areas like insurance, emergency response and real estate. For example, a local construction agency can work with DroneUp to monitor on-site job progress through aerial drone photography.
“Not only will the added revenue help offset the cost of delivery, but it also serves the entire drone industry by gathering more flight data as we work together to expand drone operations in a safe and regulated way,” said Guggina.
Our founder Mr. Sam once said, “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.” We’re doing just that with drone technology, making it a feasible solution that we know customers and communities will enjoy.