Walmart is expanding its drone delivery operations across six states this year, making it possible for many more customers to get a box of diapers or dinner ingredients delivered in 30 minutes or less. Through an expansion with operator DronUp, the company hopes to fly deliveries from 34 sites, providing the potential to reach 4 million U.S. households across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
Between 8 am and 8 pm each day, customers will be able to order tens of thousands of eligible items, such as Tylenol, diapers, and hot dog buns, for delivery by air in as little as half an hour. For a delivery fee of $3.99, customers can order items totaling up to 10 pounds, so simply put, if it fits safely, it flies.
Participating stores will house a DroneUp delivery hub inclusive of a team of certified pilots operating within FAA guidelines that safely manage flight operations for deliveries. Once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone, and flown remotely by a certified pilot to the customer’s yard or driveway. A cable on the drone then gently lowers the package.
Walmart also wants to increase the number of packages it delivers via drone. It has completed hundreds of deliveries within a matter of months, and with the expansion, the company says, it’ll have the ability to do more than a million drone deliveries a year. In its press release, the company said it initially thought customers would use the service for emergency items and has been surprised that something like Hamburger Helper has become the top-selling item at one of its current hubs. Other frequent items delivered by drone are batteries, trash bags, laundry detergent, and Welch’s fruit snacks.
Not only will the added revenue help offset the cost of delivery, but it also serves the entire drone industry by gathering more flight data as the companies work together to expand drone operations in a safe and regulated way.