tech

Walmart Is Piloting a Drone Delivery Program

Big drone energy hasn't peaked yet.
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Walmart

· less than 3 min read

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City folk can’t deny the suburbs’ advantages: Fewer people, more space, and proximity to the latest retail delivery tech. Wait, what?

Fayetteville, NC, residents will be the first to receive Walmart deliveries via drone, in a pilot program with drone startup Flytrex that started this week. Deliveries have to meet a strict pre-flight checklist:

  • Select groceries and household items are all that drones can carry; orders max out at 6.6 pounds.
  • Drones must fly on predetermined delivery routes, during daylight hours and over wide open spaces.

Walmart’s joining a cohort of deep-pocketed retailers (Amazon, Walgreens, CVS) that are testing drone deliveries, as online orders increase and customers prefer contactless delivery.

But there are hurdles. Before retailers can deploy airborne delivery tech, they need the Federal Aviation Administration’s thumbs-up. Once approved, a little thing called “consumer safety” limits deliveries to minimally populated areas. Then there are the drones themselves: They’re not cheap and they can’t carry a full pantry restock (yet).

My takeaway: Big drone energy is far from its peak. The extent of drone delivery adoption at retailers will depend on 1) location and 2) product assortment.

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