Walmart’s latest drone pilot will provide on-demand delivery of select health-and-wellness products.
The discount giant, which recently launched a pilot in Fayetteville, N.C., with drone delivery company Flytrex, is launching another test of automated aerial delivery. In its newest initiative in the space, Walmart is teaming up with drone technology provider Zipline to make on-demand deliveries of health and wellness items, with the potential to expand to general merchandise.
Drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens have both been piloting health-and-wellness drone delivery programs within the past 12 months (with UPS and Postmates, respectively). And on Aug. 31, chief Walmart rival Amazon received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use Prime Air drones to “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers.”
In its newest drone delivery pilot, Walmart will make trial deliveries near its headquarters in northwest Arkansas using Zipline’s proprietary technology, which enables quick on-demand delivery in under an hour and eliminates carbon emissions. The retailer expects to commence the pilot in early 2021, making drone deliveries from a Walmart store and servicing a 50-mile radius. If the project proves successful, Walmart will look to expand it to other areas of the country.
Zipline is said to operate the world’s largest drone delivery network and began operating in late 2016 in Rwanda, primarily focusing on the on-demand delivery of medical supplies. To date, the company has safely delivered more than 200,000 critical medical products to thousands of health facilities serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries.