Walmart Begins Testing Household Drone Deliveries In The US
Walmart has launched a small pilot program in Fayetteville, North Carolina to test drone deliveries. The retailer will be delivering ‘select grocery and household essential items’ using the drones.
The automated drones are operated by an Israeli startup, Flytrex. Each drone has a flight speed of 32 mph, a travel distance of 6.2 miles in a round trip and can also support up to 6.6 pounds according to Flytrex’s website.
A demo video shows how the drone lowers packages to the ground from 80 feet in the air as opposed to landing. The FAA provided Flytrex with approval to test food deliveries in North Carolina in 2019. However, the approval restricts the drones to fly only along predetermined routes in the daytime over unpopulated areas.
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“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier,” Walmart senior vice president Tom Ward said in a news post.
Drone deliveries have been on the horizon for a while, but safety regulations and high costs compared to traditional delivery had slowed adoption. But all of that is changing as the coronavirus has forced companies to find new ways of minimising contact.
Walmart first tested drone deliveries in 2015. The company also experimented with using drones to check inventory in its warehouses in 2016. Its rival Amazon, in August 2020 received approval from the FAA to operate as a drone airline in the United States. This could mean it’s planning to focus on larger commercial operations and Walmart does not want to be left behind.
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