Walmart is launching an on-demand drone delivery pilot in Fayette, N.C. with a focus on select grocery and household items. Orders will be delivered via Flytrex automated drones, which can be controlled over the cloud using a smart control dashboard. The test will help the retail giant gain insight into the customer and associate experience, from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery.
“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” said Tom Ward, SVP, Customer Product at Walmart in a blog post. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier. Take for example our autonomous vehicle work with Gatik, Ford and Nuro – we’ve gained loads of valuable insight into how autonomous vehicles fit within our business.”
Walmart is not the only retailer testing out drone delivery. Walgreens has launched its own program in Virginia alongside local retailer Sugar Magnolia. The pilot uses Google drone technology to deliver certain packages to FedEx Express customers.
Both retailers are behind Amazon, which recently received FAA approval for small drones that fly “beyond the visual line of sight” of their operator. The e-Commerce titan plans to continue improving its technology with the goal of achieving 30-minute delivery times.