Is Walmart the big competitor in drone delivery?

U.S.

A shopper loads items into her car in the parking lot of a Walmart in Willow Grove, Pa., Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Walmart says it will start commercializing its delivery service, using contract workers, autonomous vehicles and even drones to deliver other retailers’ products directly to their customers’ homes as fast as just a few hours. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Big box giant Walmart is expanding its drone delivery service to 34 stores reaching 4 million U.S. households across six states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

“We’ve seen firsthand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast. More importantly, we’ve seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service,” said David Guggina, senior vice president in a press release.

Guggina added the company has seen a shift in customers using the service for emergency to convenience items.

The news comes as the commercial drone game is revving up. 

Drones have delivered 660,000 packages in the last three years, reports consulting firm McKinsey and Company. The firm’s researchers estimate 2,000 daily drone deliveries worldwide, mostly in Asia. 

“We’re going to see a bunch of companies doing this,” said Robert Seamans, New York University business professor. “I could imagine companies like CVS, for example, or RiteAid, delivering … cold medicine, diapers, COVID tests, things like that.”

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

Meanwhile, the company that created the buzz around commercial drone delivery in 2013 — Amazon — is still developing its technology. It’s having some problems taking off, Bloomberg reports. There were five crashes over a four-month period at the company’s test site in Oregon.

Walmart’s DroneUp delivery service will cost $3.99, and promises delivery within 30 minutes in some cases. It’s only available for eligible items to homes within a one-mile radius of a participating store.

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