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September 16th, 2020 at 3:17 pm

Walmart launches on-demand drone delivery pilot. But it might take time before drones deliver your next order

Your future Walmart order might be delivered via drone.

 UPDATED: Days after Walmart announced its first drone pilot Sept. 9, the retail giant announced Monday it was teaming up with Zipline “to launch a first-of-its-kind drone delivery operation in the U.S.” and will test on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products near Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas.

The retailer announced the launch of an on-demand drone delivery pilot program with Flytrex, an end-to-end drone delivery company, on Wednesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina.


In a blog post, Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer products, said the pilot focuses on delivering select grocery and household essential items from Walmart stores using Flytrex’s automated drones.

“The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will help us gain valuable insight into the customer and associate experience – from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery,” Ward said.

But if you’re outside of Fayetteville, don’t start looking to the sky for future Walmart orders just yet.

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Ward said. “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.”

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Walmart isn’t the first to test drones.

In late-August, the Federal Aviation Administration approved Amazon’s Prime Air service, which will use drones to deliver packages.


Prime Air will feature small drones capable of delivering packages up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less. The drones will come equipped with “sense and avoid” technology to ensure the drones operate safely.

The FAA issued a “Part 135 air carrier certificate using unmanned aircraft systems” to Amazon and has issued similar certificates to Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, and UPS Flight Forward.

Walgreens was the first in the nation to start delivering purchases on-demand by drone. The program debuted in September 2019 in Christiansburg, Virginia.



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