Walmart Sends COVID-19 Tests Flying by Drone
Walmart has really stepped up its investment in drone delivery in the past month. First, the retailer launched a pilot in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with Flytrex to deliver grocery and essential items. Then, Walmart teamed with Zipline to launch on-demand deliveries of health-and-wellness products, first near the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Now, Walmart has its sights set on making COVID-19 testing easier in partnership with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp. The retailer is piloting drone delivery of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits, an innovative new way to provide additional, and contactless, testing options. Trial deliveries of collection kits in North Las Vegas start today, and those in Cheektowaga, New York, start in early October.
"There’s a lot we can learn from our drone delivery pilots to help determine what roles drones can play in pandemic response, health care delivery and retail," writes Tom Ward, senior vice president, customer product, Walmart. "We hope drone delivery of self-collection kits will shape contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale and continue to bolster the innovative ways Walmart plans to use drone delivery in the future."
According to Ward, patients who qualify for drone delivery of the COVID-19 self-collection kits must live in a single-family residence within a 1-mile radius of the designated supercenters in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga. There is no delivery or kit cost for customers, and the kits will land on the driveway, on the front sidewalk or in the backyard.
Patients perform the self-administered nasal swab test and send their sample back to Quest Diagnostics using the included prepaid shipping label.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 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 list of the top food retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam's Club ranks No. 9 on the list.