Walmart expanding drone service to reach 4 million homes

Business

FILE – This June 25, 2019, file photo shows the entrance to a Walmart in Pittsburgh. Walmart launched a pilot program Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, using drones to deliver groceries and household essentials in a North Carolina city. The retail giant is using drones from Flytrex in Fayetteville, where it says it hopes to gain insight into customers’ and its workers’ experience with the technology. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(NewsNation) — It’s countdown to drone launch for Walmart, previously best known for its low prices — not low heights.

The retail giant announced in a news release Tuesday that it’s expanding its drone delivery service to 34 stores reaching four million US households in six states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

“All news systems and experiments that we do at Walmart are about bringing convenience and speed to our customers in any way that we can,” said Tom Ward, senior Walmart vice president.

The promise is a delivery, in some instances, within 30 minutes from click to drop off in your yard.

Walmart’s DroneUp delivery service will cost $3.99 and will be available for eligible items to homes within a one-mile radius of a participating store.

And the commercial drone game is revving up.

Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet, is also making deliveries via an app in Texas and Virginia.

And Amazon, which created the buzz around commercial drone delivery in 2013, is still developing its technology, as reporting from Bloomberg suggests it’s having some problems taking off: There were five crashes over a four-month period at the company’s test site in Oregon.

Consulting firm McKinsey says in the last three years, drones have delivered 660,000 packages to customers.

Early this year, they estimated 2,000 drone deliveries are happening each day worldwide, with most taking place in Asia.

“I think we’re gonna see a bunch of companies doing this. I could imagine companies like CVS, for example, or Rite Aid, delivering not all, you know, not restricted drugs, but delivering things like cold medicine, diapers, COVID tests, things like that,” said Robert Seamans, a NYU Stern School of Business professor.

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