May 24, 2022
Walmart has announced it plans to expand its DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end of the year, with the potential of reaching 4 million U.S. households across six states – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The retailer said the expansion would give them the ability to deliver more than 1 million packages by drone in one year.
“After completing hundreds of deliveries within a matter of months across our existing DroneUp hubs, we’ve seen firsthand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast,” wrote David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation at Walmart. “While we initially thought customers would use the service for emergency items, we’re finding they use it for its sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal. Case in point: The top-selling item at one of our current hubs is Hamburger Helper.”
Walmart said that between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., customers can order from tens of thousands of eligible items, including Tyleonal, diapers and hot dog buns, for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes. Customers pay a delivery fee of $3.99, and can order items that total up to 10 lbs.
Stores participating in the expansion will operate a DroneUp delivery hub that includes a team of certified pilots, operating within FAA guidelines, that safely manage flight operations for deliveries. When customers place an order, the item is filled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered to their yard with a cable that gently lowers the package, Walmart said.
Guggina wrote that as Walmart scales its drone infrastructure, it will explore the concept of allowing local businesses and municipalities aerial drone solutions in areas such as insurance, emergency response, and real estate. “For example, a local construction agency can work with DroneUp to monitor on-site job progress through aerial drone photography,” said Guggina. The additional revenue from these types of services would help offset the cost of delivery, but also serve the entire drone industry by gathering more flight data to expand drone operations safely through a regulated approach.
You can read more details in Guggina’s post on the Walmart blog here.