It hasn’t happened yet, but Walmart drone deliveries are set to get a major expansion. Following oodles of announcements around one-off drone delivery partnerships between drone service providers and popular (namely food) companies, here’s one popular company that looks like it could make its drone delivery service a bit more permanent.
Walmart drone deliveries are set to expand to 34 sites by the end of the year, according to an announcement today from David Guggina, SVP of Innovation and Automation at Walmart U.S. Deliveries will span 6 states, which are:
The retail giant says the expanded network would allow its drone deliveries to reach 4 million households and arrive within as little as 30 minutes of the order being placed, adding that it has a goal to deliver more than 1 million packages by drone in a year. Eligible customers will — during daytime hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. — be able to order tens of thousands of items from a (large) curated list of mostly-grocery items.
Walmart says deliveries can total up to 10 pounds, and delivery will be offered at a fixed delivery fee of $3.99.
The Walmart drone deliveries are being done in partnership with DroneUp, a drone delivery network. Walmart and DroneUp have been working together already for a couple of years now on a smaller scale. In those tests, Walmart found something interesting about delivery habits. Rather than customers ordering emergency items, Walmart said the most popular deliveries were made for its sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal. Walmart says its top-selling item at one of our current hubs is Hamburger Helper.
Here’s how the Walmart drone deliveries will work:
- Assuming you live near a participating store, you can place an order.
- The item will be fulfilled from the store, rather than a separate warehouse, where employees will pack and load the drone.
- The drone will fly out of the store, operated by a team of certified pilots flying under FAA guidelines.
- The drone will fly to your house, gently lowered to your yard via a cable.
The drone expansion follows a series of initiatives Walmart has taken to innovate in the home delivery network — promising faster delivery times, alternative methods to standard trucks, and even services to put items right in your kitchen. With Walmart Express delivery, you can have items delivered to your doorstep in as little as two hours With InHome, you can even opt to have your deliveries placed right in your refrigerator.
Walmart first partnered with DroneUp during 2020 to launch a pilot project with medical testing company Quest Diagnostics, where it delivered COVID-19 at-home self-collection kits to single-family homes in the North Las Vegas-area. That was an extremely small test, limited to residents of a 1-mile radius within a single zip code.
The relationship took a big leap in June 2021, when Walmart announced an investment of an undisclosed sum in DroneUp, which also brought drone deliveries of goods to homes in Walmart’s own hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.