Walmart Delivery Drones Now Up And Running In Numerous States
Walmart delivery drones are already delivering packages in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia, and the service is slated to continue to expand.
Like robots that can make you a sandwich, it wasn’t that long ago that delivery drones sounded like some futuristic dream. But now, in seven different states, you can order up to 10 pounds worth of goods, and Walmart delivery drones will deposit the package in your front yard—often within 30 minutes. And in true Walmart fashion, this delivery option is crazy affordable at just $4.
The Walmart delivery drone program will continue to expand, but it’s already available to buyers in seven states—Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. In 2022, the company completed more than 6,000 deliveries originating at 36 drone delivery hubs. Customers could choose from tens of thousands of items, from bread to diapers, for delivery between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Walmart published an article in May 2022 stating that they had received positive feedback from customers who had used the innovative service. The company said they originally assumed customers would use the service for emergency items, but many use it for sheer convenience. In fact, one drone hub’s top-selling item is Hamburger Helper.
According to BusinessWire.com, the top five items delivered by Walmart delivery drones seem to fit the definition of convenience items. They include, in order, cartons of Great Value cookies and cream ice cream, 2 lb. bags of lemons, hot rotisserie chickens, 8.4 oz. cans of Red Bull energy drinks, and packages of Bounty Select-a-Size paper towels. A full 85% of the inventory in a Walmart Neighborhood Market store meets the weight and size requirements for drone delivery.
“I’m incredibly proud of our team for creating the largest drone delivery footprint of any U.S. retailer and providing customers with an incredibly fast – and innovative – option for delivery,” said Vik Gopalakrishnan, Walmart U.S.’s vice president of innovation and automation. “We’re encouraged by the positive response from customers and look forward to making even more progress in 2023.”
Contrary to the mental images they inspire, Walmart delivery drones don’t just drop packages onto your lawn. The tiny flying aircraft stay airborne, between 300 and 400 feet, to minimize noise and safety problems. There are two ways the packages make it to the ground.
Some drones drop packages to the ground in padded containers that have attached parachutes. Others are delivered by Zipline drones. These Walmart delivery drones lower the package to the ground by a retractable tether.
According to a study by Carnegie Mellon, delivery drones are great for the environment. They emit 84% fewer greenhouse gases than diesel-powered delivery trucks and 31% less than electric delivery vans. Walmart delivery drones also cut back on road congestion, and expanding drone services could cut carbon emissions by 49 kilotons per year.
Walmart delivery drones aren’t the only packages you might see soaring through the sky. Amazon recently began offering drone deliveries in College Station, Texas, and Lockeford, California. They, too, plan to expand their drone delivery services over time, as does DoorDash.
Last November, Amazon unveiled a new delivery drone design that is capable of flying in the rain. Slated to go into service in 2024, the smaller, quieter MK30 drone comes equipped with new safety features. It also offers an increased delivery range and expanded tolerance to variations in temperature.
Walmart delivery drones are operated by three drone companies—DroneUp, Flytrex, and Zipline. Ninety percent of America’s population lives within close proximity of one of the nation’s 4,700 Walmart stores. This makes the retail giant uniquely positioned to offer drone deliveries at a huge scale in the near future.