- Walmart's drone delivery service with DroneUp is now available in Arizona, Florida and Texas, part of a wider plan to offer the same-day delivery option in six states by the end of this year, the retailer announced Thursday.
- Customers within one mile of participating stores — four in the Phoenix area, seven in the Tampa and Orlando areas and 11 in the Dallas area — are eligible to use the service. Orders can be placed through the DroneUp Delivery website between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time.
- "Drones can deliver more than 10,000 eligible Walmart items up to ten pounds, including fragile items like eggs, in as little as 30 minutes," according to a news release. "There are no order minimums and the delivery fee is just $3.99."
Walmart drone delivery debuts in three new states
The launch in three new states fits into Walmart's wider plan to build the capacity to deliver 1 million packages per year by drone.
The retailer aims to expand its DroneUp network to cover 4 million U.S. households across six states. This includes the states involved in Thursday’s announcement, along with Arkansas, Utah and Virginia. DroneUp has already launched three delivery hub sites at Walmart stores in Northwest Arkansas. The release didn’t mention the current status of drone delivery in Utah and Virginia.
Thirty-four stores in 23 cities will have drone delivery available by year end, per Thursday’s release.
“Drone delivery makes it possible for our customers to shop those last-minute or forgotten items with ease, in a package that’s frankly really cool,” said Vik Gopalakrishnan, Walmart U.S. vice president of innovation and automation, in a statement.
Companies are pushing to advance drone delivery as a more efficient method to quickly deliver lightweight payloads versus ground vehicles. But even for companies with deep pockets like Amazon, drones have proven difficult to scale in the face of regulatory hurdles and technological limitations. Walmart, which has made a strategic investment in DroneUp, aims to break through those barriers.
The two companies tout Walmart's significant physical footprint of more than 4,700 U.S. stores that will allow it to reach a large portion of the population within a drone's range. Walmart says it has already made thousands of same-day drone deliveries to date.
DroneUp deliveries use a team of certified pilots operating within Federal Aviation Administration guidelines to manage flight operations, the release said. To complete the delivery, the drones use a cable that lowers the payload into the safest location of the customer's home, like a yard or driveway. The DroneUp Delivery website noted that services may temporarily be unavailable if strong winds or other inclement weather is present.