Drone Express enables drone delivery for Kroger

  • May 3, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

American grocery retailer Kroger has started a drone delivery pilot in collaboration with Drone Express, a division of New Jersey-based Telegrid Technologies.

The pilot is offering grocery delivery via autonomous drones, expanding the retailer’s ecosystem and providing customers with anything, anytime, anywhere.

“Kroger’s new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative ecommerce business, which includes pickup, delivery and ship and reached more than $10bn in sales in 2020,” said Kroger’s Jody Kalmbach, group vice president. “The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective and efficient last-mile solutions. We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions.”

The pilot will offer flexibility as Drone Express technology allows package delivery to the location of a customer’s smartphone not only to a street address, meaning a customer will be able to order delivery of picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to the beach, or condiments to a backyard cookout, for instance.

Kroger is designing bundled product offerings for meeting needs within the current weight limits for drone delivery, which is about 0.5kg. As an illustration, Kroger will offer a baby care bundle with wipes and formula, a child wellness bundle with over-the-counter medications and fluids, and a S’mores bundle with Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Customers can order online and have eligible orders delivered within as little as 15 minutes.

“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” said Beth Flippo, chief technology officer at Telegrid. “The possibilities for customers are endless – we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner.”

Drone Express will start test flights this week near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio. The flights will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring. Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralphs store in California.

“The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers,” said Ethan Grob, Kroger director. “We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger.”

Centerville mayor Brooks Compton added: “Kroger and Drone Express made a great choice in piloting this programme in Centerville, a community with a robust business network focused on progress and stability near the birthplace of aviation. Families here have the power to transform grocery delivery around the nation and the globe. We look forward to placing our first order.”

Telegrid Technologies was founded in 1984 with a focus on providing technologies such as communications and networking equipment and systems for US military and government agencies. In 2018, the company founded Drone Express to integrate its military-grade wireless mesh network with drone technologies. Drone Express has operations in California, New Jersey and Ohio.

Drone Express is a logistics firm that works with companies to integrate drone delivery into supply chains and service offerings. The company recently established a facility in the southwest Ohio community of Monroe as a hub for manufacturing, testing and piloting of autonomous drones for commercial package delivery.