Walmart says it has started a pilot project for deliveries of grocery and household products by automated drones, along with end-to-end delivery firm Flytrex, as the American retailer looks to strengthens its delivery business, reports a company press release.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart explained the test had begun this week in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with cloud-controlled drones picking up and dropping off select items. The company is accelerating the expansion of its pick-up and delivery services in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, as virus-wary consumers increasingly wanting items delivered to their doorsteps.
Tom Ward, senior Vice-President of customer products, commented, “We know 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.” Adding, ”I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.”
Meanwhile, Walmart, whose U.S. online sales doubled in the second quarter, has previously partnered with Ford and self-driving vehicle start-ups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.