Walmart pilots its way into the drone delivery race
What would Orville and Wilbur Wright think? What would Sam Walton think, for that matter?
Walmart released news yesterday that it has launched a drone pilot program to test on-demand delivery of groceries and select household essential items in North Carolina, the state where the famous brothers took flight with their powered aircraft in 1903.
Tom Ward, SVP, customer product, Walmart, wrote on a company blog that the retailer began testing drone deliveries in Fayetteville yesterday. In making the announcement, Mr. Ward pointed to the spirit of Walmart’s founder Mr. Walton who said, “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.”
“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” wrote Mr. Ward. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier. Take for example our autonomous vehicle work with Gatik, Ford and Nuro — we’ve gained loads of valuable insight into how autonomous vehicles fit within our business.”
Walmart’s drone test puts it among a list of retailers, including Amazon.com, CVS, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and Walgreens, that are doing the same.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved Amazon Prime Air as an official “air carrier” last month, enabling the company to get its commercial drone delivery program off the ground in the U.S.
- Walmart Now Piloting On-Demand Drone Delivery – Walmart
- FAA gives permission for Amazon’s drones to take off – RetailWire
- Will COVID-19 quicken drone delivery’s flight to retail? – RetailWire
- 7-Eleven makes history with consumer drone delivery – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Walmart’s drone test signal that the timetable for making deliveries in this way is being substantially moved up? How do you see drones fitting in with various other forms of delivery using autonomous vehicles?