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Walmart Is Set To Launch Drone Hubs For Speedy, Same-Hour Deliveries By Air
By Alexa Heah, 23 Nov 2021
Image via Walmart
Walmart has teamed up with DroneUp to launch a network of drone delivery hubs, beginning with the first in Farmington, Arkansas. This places the retail chain ahead of its competitor, Amazon, which has been teasing aerial deliveries since 2013 but has yet to launch its program.
The launch of Walmart’s network has certainly been swift, considering that it only partnered with the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) firm five months ago. The first hub, based at a Walmart Neighborhood Market, will be followed by two others in the state, located in nearby Rogers and Bentonville.
“When we invested in DroneUp earlier this year, we envisioned a drone delivery operation that could be quickly executed and replicated across multiple stores. Opening our first hub within months of our initial concept showcases DroneUp’s ability to safely execute drone delivery options with speed,” said Tom Ward, Senior Vice President of Last Mile at Walmart US.
According to GeekWire, customers in the vicinity of a hub can check if they’re eligible for drone deliveries on DroneUp’s site, before browsing a limited selection of Walmart goods available. Each air delivery, which is limited to five pounds, will cost a shipping fee of US$10.
Deliveries could reach customers in as quick as 30 minutes, with a flight operator monitoring the drone’s flight path from the control tower at a hub. Each hub can support multiple flights per hour, allowing for less wait time. The service will be available from 8am to 8pm CT (9am to 9pm ET), as long as weather permits.
DroneUp said its system allows for “a safe, fun, and convenient way for Walmart shoppers to get smaller packages delivered by drone directly to their homes.”
Going forward, Walmart has plans to expand its drone deliveries nationwide, though it’s unclear how it will overcome current government regulations concerning remote drone operations in major cities.
As for Amazon, it told GeekWire that Prime Air is still in the works, and that the company is “committed to making our goal of delivering packages by drones a reality.”
“We are pioneering new ground and it will continue to take time to create the right technology and infrastructure to safely deliver packages to customers. As part of this, we continue to collaborate closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory bodies around the world,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
[via GeekWire, cover image via Walmart]
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