Walmart and DroneUp, in which the retailer is investing, teamed last year on successful trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits.
After safely performing hundreds of drone deliveries from stores in partnership with nationwide drone services provider DroneUp, Walmart is now making an investment in DroneUp “to continue our work toward developing a scalable last-mile delivery solution,” according to John Furner, CEO and president, Walmart U.S., in a blog post.
Walmart and Virginia Beach, Va.-based DroneUp teamed last year on successful trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits.
Furner noted that his company “already has a significant part of the infrastructure in place – 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most purchased items, located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. This makes us uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries, which is why our investment in DroneUp won’t just apply to the skies, but also the ground.”
He added that in the next few months, Walmart would launch its first drone operation at a store in the retailer’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark.
In April, the company revealed a similar investment in San Francisco-based autonomous electric vehicle provider Cruise. “Through these commitments, we’re learning how these technologies can get customers the items they need,” noted Furner.
“Conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach,” he continued. “DroneUp’s expertise, combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation, puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit.”
The company has also launched pilots with Tel Aviv, Israel-based Flytrex to deliver grocery and essential items in Fayetteville, N.C., and South San Francisco, Calif.-based Zipline to offer on-demand deliveries of health-and-wellness products, first near Walmart’s Bentonville headquarters.
Walmart operates about 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list