Walmart has made an investment in DroneUp, a drone delivery startup. During the corona crisis, Walmart already partnered with DroneUp to deliver COVID-19 test kits to customers. In the future, Walmart also wants to use drones for delivering groceries, thereby finding a solution for the bottleneck known in logistics as ‘the last mile’.
Walmart invests in drone delivery company DroneUp
The investment follows the partnership that Walmart and DroneUp entered into last year. During the trial period, it turned out to be perfectly possible to deliver COVID-19 test kits to customers by means of drones. Hundreds of flights were carried out. The drones took off from Walmart retail locations directly to customer addresses.
According to Walmart, 90% of Americans live within 15 miles of one of its 4,700 stores that stock more than 100,000 of the top-selling items. Partly for this reason, Walmart thinks drone delivery is a useful way to solve the last mile problem. This refers to the last – and usually most expensive – part of the logistics chain. Many households could be supplied directly from the countless Walmart locations.
“The large-scale delivery of drones is within reach. DroneUp’s expertise, combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation, will get us exactly where we want to be one day. Because “the sky is the limit” when it comes to the future of drone delivery,” Walmart CEO John Furner said in a statement.
Manually controlled drones make deliveries
DroneUp also works with a remarkable model. The drones do not fly automatically but are manually controlled by Part 107 certified drone pilots. Connected drone pilots can be assigned flights throughout the country via an app. DroneUp was the first operator with an FAA 107.39 license, which makes it possible to fly parcel delivery drones over people and vehicles.
It is still unclear whether Walmart also wants to use manually controlled drones, or whether autonomous systems will eventually be used for this. The first delivery drones should fly from a store in the state of Arkansas.
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