Walmart has launched a pair of delivery pilot projects involving unmanned aerial system (UAS) startups DroneUp and Zipline.
The project with DroneUp will be the first multi-site commercial drone delivery operation at three Walmart locations in Northwest Arkansas.
The goal of the project is to test how multiple operations can provide delivery to thousands of items. A customer enters their address and shops from Walmart stock and the order is packed into a drone where it flies to the location and drops the box through a delivery release mechanism.
"When we invested in DroneUp earlier this year, we envisioned a drone delivery operation that could be quickly executed and replicated across multiple stores," said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart U.S. "Opening our first hub within months of our initial concept showcases DroneUp's ability to safely execute drone delivery operations with speed. We're already hearing great customer feedback at our first site in Farmington, Arkansas, and look forward to opening additional locations."
DroneUp also offers hubs that provide on-site operations where FAA certified flight engineers can conduct multiple and simultaneous deliveries.
Meanwhile, Walmart is partnering with Zipline also in Northwest Arkansas for on-demand deliveries of health, wellness and consumable items from Walmart’s Pea Ridge location.
The service was announced first last year but the companies have been building a 25 foot platform to serve as the infrastructure for take-off and landing. The platform, which is located behind the Walmart store, houses several Zipline UASs as well as its flight crew operations.
When it reaches full capacity, the UAS will service about a 50 mile radius.