Walmart launches same-day drone deliveries in six US states
Walmart is pressing ahead with its ambitions in aerial cargo transport, announcing plans to offer a same-day drone delivery service in six US states. The move follows years of smaller-scale testing by the retail giant and will reach millions of new households, which will be able to have goods dropped off in as little as 30 minutes.
Way back in 2015, Walmart tested the waters around drone technology by applying to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to pursue home deliveries and curbside pickups. Then in 2020, it continued exploring these possibilities by partnering with drone service providers DroneUp and Zipline to trial home delivery of goods. Last year, it invested in DroneUp and collaborated on the establishment of commercial drone "hubs" to carry out testing of deliveries.
These operate under a special waiver from the FAA that allows for delivery flights over people and moving vehicles by certified drone pilots. Walmart now says hundreds of deliveries have been completed out of its existing hubs with promising results, and it is now expanding the network to a total of 34 sites to deliver an anticipated million packages a year.
These will be located in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia, with the potential to reach up to four million homes, according to Walmart. Between 8 am and 8 pm each day, users will be able to order from tens of thousands of items stocked by the retailer and for a fee of US$3.99, have it delivered by drone in a little as half an hour, with the packages lowered into their yard by a cable.
Walmart expects the expansion of its drone delivery network to be complete by the end of year.
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