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Walmart expanding drone delivery to 6 markets, 4 million households

Service to add 4 million homes by Serenah McKay | May 25, 2022 at 2:22 a.m.
This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.

Walmart Inc. is expanding its drone delivery to reach about 4 million more households, while also growing the delivery service by truck that it offers to other businesses.

The Bentonville-based retailer said Tuesday that it will use DroneUp LLC, one of its drone company partners, to make deliveries in six new markets this year: Phoenix; Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; Salt Lake City; and Richmond, Va.

Walmart opened its first drone delivery hub with DroneUp in Northwest Arkansas in November, with service from a Neighborhood Market in Farmington.

A week earlier, Walmart debuted drone delivery in Pea Ridge using drones operated by Zipline.

DroneUp and Walmart partnered in September 2020 in a pilot program in which the drones delivered at-home covid-19 test kits. In June the following year, Walmart invested an undisclosed sum in the Virginia Beach, Va.-based company.

Walmart has also used Israeli drone manufacturer Flytrex to test the delivery of groceries and household goods in Fayetteville, N.C.

Customers using drone delivery can order eligible items from participating stores between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Their orders can be delivered by air within 30 minutes for a $3.99 fee.

Orders can weigh up to 10 pounds, said David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation for Walmart U.S. "If it fits safely, it flies," he said.

Participating stores will house a DroneUp delivery hub staffed with a team of certified pilots who manage flight operations in accord with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, Guggina said.

"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," Guggina said. "More importantly, we've seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service."

Walmart released news of the expanded drone delivery exactly one week after saying its delivery service, WalmartGoLocal, now delivers from 1,600 retail and business locations.

Doug McMillon, Walmart's chief executive, said in a call with investors last week that Walmart GoLocal plans to end the year with more than 5,000 locations.

Walmart GoLocal, introduced in August, uses Walmart's logistics capacity to offer customized, same-day delivery options to businesses of all sizes. Its delivery vehicles include Walmart's Spark Driver platform, electric vans, drones and autonomous vehicles.

Home Depot was Walmart GoLocal's first retail client. It has since added women's clothier Chico's FAS to its client roster.

In February, Walmart GoLocal began working with tech firm Cognetry Labs to help independent and midsize grocers expand their delivery services.

Print Headline: Walmart to widen deliveries by drone


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