Walmart Is Testing a Surprising New Way to Deliver Groceries
If you live in Fayetteville, NC, and you shop on Walmart's website or app, you may have your next delivery of groceries and household goods dropped off by a drone.
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Walmart is testing deliveries by drones in a small pilot program, and is deploying devices operated by Israeli startup Flytrex for the job. So far, the retailer hasn't released a lot of details, so it's unclear how many drones are part of this program and whether customers need to make any special preparations before receiving an order via drone.
Tom Ward, Senior Vice President of Customer Product, hinted that drones seem to be the next frontier in delivery, and Walmart has very much set its sights on the innovation. "We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we're at a point where we're learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers' lives easier," he noted in a statement on the company's website.
The capabilities of the technology itself are currently limited. The drones can fly at speeds of 32 mph, travel distances of 6.2 miles in a round trip, and only carry up to 6.6 pounds, which isn't conducive to substantial grocery hauls. The drone will then lower the package to the ground from an 80-foot altitude as opposed to having to land.
The company received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test this program under the condition that their drones only fly during the daytime and over unpopulated areas.
This isn't the first time that Walmart is experimenting with drone technology. They first started testing them for customer deliveries in 2015, while in 2016 they were planning on using them for inventory checks in their warehouses.
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