Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is expanding delivery with DroneUp, a Virginia Beach based company specializing in drone technology.
Walmart plans to expand its DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end the year, providing the potential to reach 4 million U.S. households across six states – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia. This provides Walmart the ability to deliver over 1 million packages by drone in a year.
Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., customers will be able to order from tens of thousands of eligible items, such as Tylenol, diapers and hot dog buns, for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes. For a delivery fee of $3.99, customers can order items totaling up to 10 pounds that can be carried safely by drone.
Walmart has already completed hundreds of deliveries ovr the past few months across its existing DroneUp hubs. The company says it has seen firsthand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast. More importantly, Walmart says it has received a positive response from customers that have used the service. In fact, while the company initially thought customers would use the service for emergency items, many are using it for sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal. Case in point: The top-selling item at one of the current hubs is Hamburger Helper.
Participating Walmart stores will house a DroneUp delivery hub inclusive of a team of certified pilots, operating within FAA guidelines, that safely manage flight operations for deliveries. Once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered right to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package.
Walmart has been using drivers nationwide from Doordash and Uber Eats to fulfill delivery orders. These contract drivers use their own cars to make deliveries which include both groceries and other store items.