Walmart autonomous drone delivery takes flight, dropping orders in 30 minutes

Morning In America

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (NewsNation Now) — As Americans race to the holiday season, Walmart is unveiling a new pilot program that could deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes.

Walmart has partnered with Zipline, the drone delivery startup that first launched with emergency medical deliveries in Rwanda, to launch autonomous deliveries to shoppers in Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

The service will make deliveries of select health and wellness and consumable items from the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Pea Ridge, according to a news release.

“Zipline’s autonomous aircraft presents an incredible opportunity to offer customers an on-demand delivery option for the items they need now, such as a thermometer, non-prescription medication or an emergency pack of diapers,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, Last Mile Delivery, Walmart U.S.

Liam O’Connor, Zipline COO, said the drone delivery system would be a game-changer.

“It’s unbelievable to see it happen for the first time, over the course of history as a big inflection point for the drone industry in general and that Pea Ridge will have a very important place on the map of the history of drones in the U.S,” O’Connor said.

According to the news release, all customers need to do is download the Zipline app, select which products they would like to receive and select a delivery time at checkout.

Like Walmart pick-up, a store associate gathers the items and delivers them to the Zipline crew, preparing them for delivery. Customers started placing orders Thursday and can track their drone’s status on the app.

Ward added that the drones could help provide immediate services to elderly customers who are at-risk or hard to reach and living in rural areas, as the drones have a 50-mile radius.

The service was announced in fall 2020, and since then Walmart and Zipline have been working on perfecting the system by building a 25-foot platform for the drones to land and take off.

We’ve seen firsthand the impact that instant logistics can have in making important, even lifesaving products, available on a moment’s notice. At the same time, the past two years have proven the need to bring health products closer to home, where they are more accessible. Working with Walmart, we’re able to bring this type of service to Northwest Arkansas, showcasing what the future of health access looks like.

KELLER RINAUDO, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF ZIPLINE

Zipline began operation in 2016 and has since completed over 200,000 commercial deliveries of over 4.5 million units of medical supplies for more than 20 million people across the globe.

Through a combination of third-party delivery providers, Walmart has increased its delivery network to be offered in more than 3,000 stores over the last three years.

Just two weeks ago, the Bentonville-based retailer launched its autonomous truck delivery system, continuing to adapt technology and remain “on the forefront of incorporating autonomous and sustainable innovations.”

NewsNation affiliate KNWA contributed to this report.

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