America’s largest retailer is now doing deliveries by air. Walmart will transport goods like cough medicine, thermometers and other health-related products via drone to Arkansas customers who live within a 1.15 mile radius from a base outside a store in Farmington, starting Monday. The service will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Walmart’s drone delivery option comes via a partnership with DroneUp, a startup out of Virginia that provides drone technology and services. According to Walmart, flight engineers will control and guide each delivery to ensure the order arrives safely.
The service will be expanded to additional Arkansas locations in Rogers and Bentonville in the coming months, and Walmart eventually plans to provide the service over longer distances.
“When we invested in DroneUp earlier this year, we envisioned a drone delivery operation that could be quickly executed and replicated across multiple stores,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart. “Opening our first hub within months of our initial concept showcases DroneUp’s ability to safely execute drone delivery operations with speed.”
Though today’s announcement marks the first multi-site commercial drone delivery service, Walmart has a longer history with drones. The retailer first experimented with drone delivery during 2020 to provide COVID-19 self-testing kits to customers’ homes. Through a partnership with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp, Walmart was able to deliver kits within a 1-mile radius of the designated locations in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, New York, to the driveway or backyard of customers’ homes.
Amazon, Alphabet and UPS are amongst other companies looking to expand delivery operations aerially.
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