As recently as last week, Walmart made headlines by launching its first commercial drone delivery service in the United States within 50 miles of Pea Ridge, Arkansas – dropping packages loaded with parachutes from a Autonomous Zipline aircraft to a “hand-selected recipient group”. Now he’s already expanding those drone deliveries in another way: Customers who live in Farmington, Arkansas can now order small items like tuna cans, baby supplies, and cardboard plates from today. ‘hui. This is through a partnership with DroneUp, which will also provide drone delivery stations to Rogers, AR and Bentonville, AR “in the coming months.”
While this is a little exciting for drone delivery observers, you should know that these are small steps too. DroneUp’s traditional quadcopters only deliver within a mile of a Walmart store – and all three of these stores are in the same region that Zipline has previously announced it will serve. However, they lower their packages on cables rather than dropping them from the sky.
Walmart seemed to have a whole selection of essentials to offer when we typed in a local address. We spotted a 26-diaper pack, a box of buttermilk pancake mix, paper plates, crayons, trash bags, vitamins, scotch tape and, page after page, basic foods and stuff for baby (including baby food). Each item has a weight, and the website will only let you check out with 4 pounds of merchandise or less for a $ 10 delivery charge.
The heaviest thing we saw was a 3.87 pound can of Similac infant formula, and the most expensive was a $ 29.88 bottle of extra virgin olive oil. 1.5 pounds of canned tuna, a 2.4 pound bottle of Pedialyte, and a 3.58 pound box of mixed fruit cups are also on hand if you live in the (small) area that Walmart and DroneUp have. now serve. DroneUp says customers can get orders as quickly as 30 minutes (but doesn’t promise a typical delivery time) and says each hub can launch multiple flights per hour.
(Oddly, you can’t sort Walmart items by weight for easier selections, and the basket doesn’t seem smart enough to restrict you in volume: I added 27 light cups of ramen to my basket without raising a flag at all of them, and I’m pretty sure they won’t all fit in this drone.)
Walmart and DroneUp have already tested deliveries of COVID-19 test drones within a mile of stores in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, New York, and Walmart made an undisclosed investment in DroneUp this summer. DroneUp still does not say what or how much Walmart has invested.
Here’s a video from DroneUp on what the deliveries might look like: