walmart launch drone delivery pilot

Just days after Amazon announced it was given FAA approval for its own drone delivery service

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Yesterday, Walmart announced they’ll be taking their delivery services up a notch by launching a pilot testing drone delivery of “select grocery and household essential items”.

The country’s largest supermarket chain will be partnering with Flytrex for this initiative, an end-to-end drone delivery company. In a statement announcing the pilot, Walmart’s Senior Vice President of Customer Products, Tom Ward, said: “We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. 

“That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”

According to The Verge, the drones can fly at speeds of 32 mph, travel distances of 6.2 miles in a round trip, and carry up to 6.6 pounds. They are also able to lower packages to the ground from 80 feet in the air rather than completely landing themselves. The pilot launched in Fayetteville, North Carolina and drones will be controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, according to the statement. 

The company has been looking into drone delivery for around five years now. The acceleration into real, customer deliveries was likely due to the pandemic. Ward emphasized the initiative is driven by a want to deliver products in a way that is “convenient, safe, and – you guessed it – fast.” Online shopping, particularly for groceries, increased a lot during the pandemic, so it’s no surprise companies are trying to innovate and meet these new demands. 

It’s also arguable that Walmart has got Amazon in its peripheral vision, which also announced they had been given the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval to operate as a drone airline in the United States, a huge step for Prime Air. While the company said it would be launching tests, it did not state when, where, or how many.

The world of eCommerce is changing rapidly and automation is becoming common on the delivery side of things since businesses are looking for more eco-friendly and efficient ways to deliver goods. Earlier this Summer, Amazon launched more of their Scout delivery robots for more testing around the country.