Retail giant Walmart’s airborne delivery footprint has expanded and is literally soaring over North Texas with the company saying it’s now offering drone delivery for up to 75% of Dallas-Fort Worth residents.
It’s an expansion that makes Walmart’s drone delivery footprint the largest of any U.S. retailer, the company said.
“Drone delivery is not just a concept of the future, it’s happening now, and will soon be a reality for millions of additional Texans,” said Prathibha Rajashekhar, senior vice president, innovation and automation, Walmart U.S., in a statement.
Rajashekhar says the DFW expansion will “bring the ultimate convenience of drone delivery to communities” in the area. “Customers will have access to a broad assortment of items from Walmart available for delivery to their home in just minutes,” he said.
Walmart drone service reaching 30 towns and municipalities in DFW
According to the company, the expansion includes stores across more than 30 towns and municipalities in the DFW area, marking the first time a U.S. retailer has offered drone delivery to this many households in a single market.
Walmart’s system is powered by on-demand drone delivery providers, Wing and Zipline, both of which are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly their drones without a dedicated observer being able to see the drone at all times. That’s known as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), which will enable drone delivery to more Texans than ever.
Over the last two years of trialing drone delivery, Walmart has completed more than 20,000 safe deliveries, the company said.
Drone delivery gives customers a faster delivery option, getting items to them in 30 minutes or less—and some deliveries can happen as fast as 10 minutes, the company said. Drone delivery is an addition to other speedy delivery methods, such as express delivery in three hours or less, late-night delivery until 10 p.m., and in-home delivery, with an option for direct delivery to a customer’s refrigerator.
Walmart said it has seen customers use its drone service for many reasons, including when they need an item in a pinch, like a forgotten ingredient or over-the-counter cold medicine, or just because it’s convenient.
What are some of the most popular items ordered for drone delivery? Walmart said some of the most popular items ordered include snacks and beverages.
From movie nights to last-minute gifts—and items as fragile as eggs
Drones also can deliver several items at a time, such as supplies for a movie night at home, a last-minute birthday gift, or ingredients for baking cookies, including fragile items like eggs, the company said. The delivery radius for stores offering the service will be up to 10 miles.
The company said that Wing delivers packages directly from businesses to homes in minutes. With four years of commercial residential service in the U.S. and on three continents, and a network approach to scaled drone delivery similar to efficient rideshares, Walmart said that Wing is working to deliver packages more efficiently and safely as part of an automated logistics system that routinely moves packages by the millions.
“Our first few months delivering to Walmart customers have made it clear: Demand for drone delivery is real,” Wing CEO Adam Woodworth said in a statement. “The response has been incredible from customers ordering drone delivery from Walmart every day, and it’s a testament to our partnership that we’re now expanding our footprint to bring this innovative delivery option to millions of Texans. If this milestone is any indication, we believe 2024 is the year of drone delivery.”
Zipline is the world’s largest autonomous delivery company that helps health systems, restaurants, and retailers provide fast, precise, and convenient deliveries, Walmart said.
Zipline has flown more than 60 million commercial autonomous miles since 2016 and delivered millions of products, including more than 13 million vaccine doses. The company said it completes a commercial delivery every 70 seconds and has operations on four continents.
“Autonomous delivery is finally ready for national scale in the U.S. Zipline is excited to enable Walmart’s vision of providing customer delivery so fast it feels like teleportation,” Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, co-founder and CEO of Zipline, said in a statement.
According to Cliffton, Walmart leads the U.S. in using robotics and AI to help people live better and save money.
“We’re excited for folks across Dallas-Fort Worth to experience delivery that is 7x as fast, zero emissions, and whisper quiet with our next-generation technology,” the CEO said.
Walmart said the expansion represents its ongoing commitment to innovation and to revolutionizing the way customers shop and receive their orders. With “4,700 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, we’re uniquely positioned to scale when that time comes,” the company said.
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