By Chris Stonor
Walmart, in its bid to be America’s leading pioneer of deploying drones to deliver goods, announced this week that it has invested both time and money into Virginia-based, Drone-Up. This is not only fantastic news for the drone provider, but also for the supermarket chain’s customers.
Last year, Walmart partnered with Drone-Up to launch trial deliveries of at-home Covid-19 self-collection kits. The testing was successful and demonstrated how customers could receive the kits in just minutes and not hours. After completing many hundreds of deliveries from the chain’s stores, the company is now investing in Drone-Up to continue its work towards developing a scalable last-mile delivery solution.
Tom Walker Founder & CEO of Drone-Up, said, “The drone services industry has reached an inflection point of rapidly increased adoption and acceptance. Walmart and Drone-Up are uniquely positioned to succeed in the next chapter of last-mile delivery.”
He continued, “Walmart’s vast hub-and-spoke network, combined with Drone-Up’s extensive operational expertise, will unlock affordable rapid delivery and nationwide drone services.”
Drone-Up operates an “on-demand drone delivery network” that matches its database of more than 10,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified operators to missions nationwide.
Since partnering with the service provider last year, Walmart values the drone company’s “technological expertise, world-class operations and experienced management team” and this commitment extends to assisting the FAA ensure the highest levels of safety with every delivery.
Drone-Up is 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. The company operates commercially throughout the U.S. and is an authorised government drone services provider for 11 U.S. states serving public sector organisations.
Meanwhile, Walmart already has a significant part of the required infrastructure in place including 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most-purchased items, located within 10 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. This makes the supermarket chain uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries, which is why its investment in Drone-Up won’t just apply to the skies but also the ground. In the coming months the first operation will occur from a store in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The partnership believe conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach. Drone-Up’s expertise, combined with Walmart’s retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation, puts the partnership right where they want to be. Ahead of the competition and where the sky’s the limit.
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