Walmart expands drone delivery to four million households

  • June 7, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Walmart is extending drone delivery to four million US households in partnership with Virginia-based DroneUp.

The supermarket chain is offering multiple delivery options from express delivery, where customers can have items delivered to their doorsteps in as little as two hours, to in-home, where they can get orders placed in their refrigerators.

It is now expanding its DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end the year, providing the potential to reach four million US households across six states – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia. This provides the ability to deliver more than one million packages by drone in a year.

Between 8:00am and 8:00pm, customers will be able to order from tens of thousands of eligible items, such as Tylenol, diapers and hot dog buns, for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes. For a delivery fee of $4, they can order items totalling up to 4.5kg.

After completing hundreds of deliveries within months across its existing DroneUp hubs, Walmart says it has seen first-hand how drones can be a practical way for shoppers to receive certain items fast.

“More importantly, we’ve seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service,” said a Walmart statement. “In fact, 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.”

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 shopper places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package.

“DroneUp has been a reliable partner as we’ve tested this, and their capabilities will enable our business to scale with speed while maintaining a high calibre of safety and quality,” said the statement. “But Walmart packages aren’t the only thing the drones will deliver. A core value at Walmart is to give back to the communities in which we operate, which is why, as we scale our drone infrastructure, we’ll continue to influence the expansion of drone technology and enable other businesses to explore its benefits, too.”

This means DroneUp will offer local businesses and municipalities aerial drone services 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.

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 to expand drone operations in a safe and regulated way.