While your groceries probably won't come by drone for this Thanksgiving, delivery operations are expanding. DroneUp LLC and Walmart Inc. today announced today their first multi-site commercial drone delivery operations. The three locations, which will be located at Walmart stores in Northwest Arkansas, will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days per week, to deliver items to eligible Walmart customers by air in as little as 30 minutes.
“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, Ark., and look forward to opening additional locations.”
Founded in 2016, DroneUp develops software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings with patented mobile apps available at the Apple App and Google Play stores. The Virginia Beach, Va.-based privately held company works with more than 20,000 drone pilots to serve its customers and claimed to be a global leader in innovative drone flight services.
DroneUp, Walmart aim for industry leadership
The flexibility, speed, and low cost of drone deliveries can provide unique value, according to DroneUp. Aerial drones also use less fuel for short delivery trips than other vehicles, it said.
DroneUp added that it has worked “closely and continuously” with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure the safe operation of drones in the National Airspace. It has more than 190 active waivers and authorizations with the FAA to support flights across the U.S.
Walmart said it is well-positioned to be the drone delivery leader because it already has significant infrastructure in place to serve the public. The retailer has more than 4,700 stores stocked with 120,000 of the most purchased items, located within 10 miles of over 90% of the U.S. population. Walmart has also invested and worked with Zipline, Gatik, Argo AI, and Cruise for autonomous deliveries.
DroneUp said its airport “Hubs” house convenient on-site operations where FAA-certified flight engineers can conduct multiple and simultaneous deliveries.
“Teaming up with Walmart to launch three delivery hubs marks a significant leap forward in the broader use of UAS [unmanned aerial systems] to provide last-mile consumer delivery services and supply chain efficiency options,” said Tom Walker, founder and CEO of DroneUp.
“Walmart and DroneUp provide an unrivaled ability to pick, pack, and deliver via drones directly from the store to consumers offering efficiencies no other retailer can match,” he said. “We are proud of our team's ability to deliver the technology helping Walmart launch a new era of commercial drone operations.”
Drone delivery steps, availability
DroneUp said its skilled operators offer Walmart customers a safe, convenient, fast, and sustainable option to get thousands of items—even the most fragile ones. The company said customers can take the following steps to benefit from the drone delivery service:
- Verify: Customer enters their address to verify eligibility.
- Shop: Customer selects from thousands of items for delivery.
- Secure: Operators pack the order and secure the box to the drone using a patented delivery release mechanism.
- Deliver: The flight engineer manages a controlled and guided delivery, placing the order gently at the customer's home.
Eligible customers in Farmington, Ark., can begin placing orders today at DroneUpDelivery.com. Walmart and DroneUp plan to open the additional locations at Walmart Neighborhood Market No. 5837 in Rogers, Ark., and Walmart Supercenter No. 100 in Bentonville, Ark., in the coming months.
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