Retail giant Walmart is set to expand its drone delivery network to 34 sites across six states in the U.S. by the end the year through its partnership with drone delivery company DroneUp. The deliveries will reach about 4 million U.S. households in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
The retailer has been working on the drone delivery over the past one year and has completed hundreds of deliveries in the past few months across the existing DroneUp hubs. The expanded drone delivery network will provide Walmart the ability to deliver over 1 million packages by drone per year.
Walmart initially partnered with DroneUp in 2020 to launch trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. After safely completing hundreds of drone deliveries from Walmart stores, the retailer made an investment in DroneUp in June 2021.
Drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast and Walmart said it has seen a positive response from its customers that have used the service. Though the retailer initially thought customers would use the service only for emergency items, but found the drone delivery being used for its sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal.
Walmart customers will be able to order from tens of thousands of eligible items, such as Tylenol, diapers and hot dog buns, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes. They can order items totaling up to 10 pounds for a delivery fee of $3.99.
The retailer noted that all 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.
According to Walmart, once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered right to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package.
Walmart added that their packages are not going to be the only thing the drones will deliver as a core value at Walmart is to give back to the communities they operate in. This means DroneUp will offer local businesses and municipalities aerial drone solutions in areas like insurance, emergency response and real estate.
This service will not only be added revenue but will help offset the cost of delivery and also serves the entire drone industry by gathering more flight data as they work together to expand drone operations in a safe and regulated way.
On Monday, Walmart expanded its commercial agreement with Symbotic LLC, an A.I.-powered supply chain technology company, to implement Symbotic’s robotics and software automation platform in all 42 of Walmart’s regional distribution centers over the coming years.
The end-to-end software-enabled high-density robotics platform plays a strategic role in supporting the retailer’s goal of modernizing its vast supply chain network and allows Walmart to transform its regional distribution centers to provide faster responsiveness to store orders, increased inventory accuracy and higher capacity for receiving and shipping freight to stores.
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