Walmart plans to begin drone deliveries by this fall from a Bentonville store. That news was part of the retailer’s announcement that it is investing in drone delivery provider DroneUp to expand work in final mile delivery. The company did not disclose financial terms of the investment.
Last year, Walmart partnered with DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, to launch trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. The trial demonstrated that Walmart could offer customers delivery in minutes versus hours. After safely completing hundreds of drone deliveries from Walmart stores, the retail giant is making an investment in DroneUp to continue the work toward developing a scalable last-mile delivery solution.
Virginia Beach, Va.-based DroneUp operates an on-demand drone delivery network that matches their database of more than 10,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified pilots to missions nationwide.
Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said Walmart values their technological expertise, world-class operations, experienced management team, and commitment to helping the FAA ensure the highest levels of safety with every delivery.
Walmart said DroneUp was the first operator to use the FAA 107.39 waiver, an operation that allows for delivery flights to be conducted over people and moving vehicles. DroneUp operates commercially in the U.S. and is an authorized government drone services provider for 11 U.S. states serving public sector organizations.
In an ongoing effort to get customers the items they want, and fast, Furner said it will take a well-coordinated network of delivery solutions that span the streets, sidewalks and skies. He said Walmart already has a significant part of the infrastructure in place – 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most-purchased items, located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population.
“This makes us uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries, which is why our investment in DroneUp won’t just apply to the skies but also the ground.”
Walmart announced in April a similar investment in Cruise, an all-electric autonomous vehicle company.
Conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach. Furner said. DroneUp’s expertise, combined with Walmart’s retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation “puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit.”