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11/18/2021

Walmart Launches Autonomous Drone Delivery Service to Northwest Arkansas Shoppers

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Senior Editor
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Shoppers in Pea Ridge, AR, can now get their Walmart deliveries parachuted from the sky.

Walmart and Zipline just announced the launch of an instant delivery service of select health & wellness and consumable items from the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Pea Ridge. Since announcing the service last fall, Walmart and Zipline have been building a 25-foot platform that serves as the infrastructure for take-off and landing. The platform, which is located directly behind the Neighborhood Market, houses several of Zipline’s proprietary autonomous aircraft as well as its flight operations crew. At full capacity, Zipline’s aircraft can service a 50-mile radius, nearly the size of the state of Connecticut.

“Zipline’s autonomous aircraft present an incredible opportunity to offer customers an on-demand delivery option for the items they need now, such as a thermometer, non-prescription medication or an emergency pack of diapers,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, Last Mile Delivery, Walmart U.S. “Even more, Zipline’s aircraft can help provide immediate access to needed items for both hard-to-reach and at-risk populations, such as rural communities and elderly customers. By bringing this game-changing technology to the rural community of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, we’re continuing to look for ways to make shopping with Walmart convenient and easy – for everyone.”

Customers within the delivery area can now place an order in the Zipline app. A Walmart associate then picks and packs the products and hands the package off to Zipline staff, who prepare the aircraft for launch. The aircraft departs to the customer’s home, drops the package and returns to the platform. The customer can track the status of the aircraft through the Zipline app.

Below, CBS takes a look at how the operations work. 

“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that instant logistics can have in making important, even life saving products, available on a moment’s notice,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “At the same time, the past two years have proven the need to bring health products closer to home, where they are more accessible. Working with Walmart, we’re able to bring this type of service to Northwest Arkansas, showcasing what the future of health access looks like.” 

“Only two weeks after Walmart launched its autonomous truck delivery system in Northwest Arkansas, the company is launching its autonomous aircraft service,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “Walmart and its partners such as Zipline are harnessing customer-friendly technology with such lightning speed that the future is becoming a reality far sooner than many Arkansans thought possible.”

[See more: Driverless Walmart Delivery Route Marks Historic Milestone]

Zipline began operating in 2016 and has completed over 200,000 commercial deliveries of over 4.5 million units of medical supplies, serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries, it said.

Over the last three years, Walmart has scaled its delivery network to be offered in more than 3,000 stores reaching 70% of the U.S. population and growing. The retailer has accomplished this through a combination of 3rd party delivery providers, service providers on the Spark Driver platform and associate delivery drivers, it said. Walmart has been incorporating autonomous and more sustainable innovations – from drones to self-driving cars – into its last mile network of late. 

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