Walmart is growing its drone delivery service to 34 locations across six states with the intention of reaching four million American households.
The retailer is teaming up with DroneUp to extend the service (opens in new tab) to people living in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. For seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, according to Walmart, the drone will deliver anything out of a list of thousands of items. However, the total package weight cannot exceed 10lbs (about 4.5kg).
Ordering via drone will slap an additional $3.99 delivery fee on top of the purchase. According to Walmart, the delivery should take around 30 minutes to get to its destination.
Outside of participating Walmart locations will be a DroneUp hub to serve as headquarters for the drones. Flying the machines will be a team of certified pilots who will follow Federal Aviation Administration guidelines to ensure packages are delivered safely.
Judging from images and the service trailer provided by Walmart, it appears that the service will be focusing more on rural/small town areas and not metropolitan cities. The trailer shows a drone flying over a rather flat suburban landscape.
Neither company has stated why they’re not expanding to big cities, but it can be surmised that it's safer to fly these drones over less populated communities than it might be to deliver among skyscrapers and other obstacles. It’s unknown if or when Walmart will expand drone delivery to the big city.
Analysis: drone competition
Walmart’s drone delivery was first launched back in November 2021 at three stores located in northwest Arkansas where it appears the pilot program was successful enough to grow.
The retail giant joins the likes of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Amazon in offering drone delivery to customers. However, Walmart’s drone delivery appears to be in the best position right now, as it’s a functioning service with a wide reach. Back in early April, Alphabet’s drone company, Wing, partnered with Walgreens and a few other local businesses to deliver products to the people living in two Texas towns. Amazon, on the other hand, is having a much harder time lifting off.
According to a Bloomberg report from April 2022, Amazon’s drone delivery is dealing with “ …technical challenges, high turnover, and safety concerns.” An investigation revealed a drone caused a brush fire after it crashed.
DroneUp appears to have taken the necessary precautions for its drones. Walmart states that it hopes to deliver over a million packages via drone by this time next year.
Want to fly your own drone? Check out our list of best drones.