In need of a fast package of hot dog buns, Hamburger Helper or diapers in under 30 minutes? Don’t worry, Walmart has the solution for you. The company announced it will expand its drone delivery services to 34 sites by the end of the year, potentially reaching 4 million US households across six states.
“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,” David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation, Walmart U.S., said in a May 24 blog post. “For a delivery fee of $3.99, customers can order items totaling up to 10 pounds, so simply put, if it fits safely it flies.”
The company is expanding its DroneUp delivery network across six states – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia — enabling it to deliver more than 1 million packages by drone in a year, according to the blog post.
Walmart said that it has seen positive responses from customers, and despite initially thinking the service would be used for emergency items, customers use it for convenience.
“Case in point: The top-selling item at one of our current hubs is Hamburger Helper,” Guggina wrote.
Guggina added that participating stores will house a DroneUp delivery hub with a team of certified pilots — operating within Federal Aviation Administration (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,” he wrote in the post.
CNBC reports that the retail giant has been trying to beat rival Amazon on speed, and two years ago, partnered with three operators — Flytrex, Zipline and DroneUp — for pilot projects to deliver groceries, household essentials and at-home COVID-19 test kits to customers.