Walmart has partnered with Flytrex, an end-to-end drone delivery company, to launch an on-demand drone delivery service at one of it Supercenters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, this week. The unveiling of this new rapid last-mile delivery service comes a little more than one week after the company officially unveiled Walmart+, an alternative to Amazon Prime.
The new service, launched on Wednesday, will allow drones to deliver select products, such as groceries and essential items, Senior Vice President for Consumer Product Tom Ward wrote in a blog post on Walmart.com.
In an era of a virus pandemic, remote-working, and eruption of e-commerce shopping, last-mile deliver wars between Walmart and Amazon appear to be developing. In August, we noted Amazon was cleared by the FAA to test drone deliveries.
Flytrex's automated drones can fly hundreds of feet in the air at 32 mph, with a distance of about 6.2 miles. Each drone has a maximum cargo load capacity of about 6.6 pounds, allowing overweight Americans to order corndogs and Twinkies on demand.
"We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone," Ward said in the post. "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."
A demo video was published on Walmart's blog, showing the drone loaded with a customer's order, then flying across a suburban neighhood, delivering the package to the customer's front yard. Flytrex received FAA approval last year to deliver goods in North Carolina.
Walmart is joining an elite club of companies that are exploring drone programs for last-mile delivery. Those companies are Amazon, CVS, UPS, and Wing, an Alphabet Inc subsidiary.
"At the end of the day, it's learnings from pilots such as this that will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale and, true to the vision of our founder, take Walmart beyond where we've been," Ward said in the blog post.
In a contactless environment, propelled by the virus pandemic, drones appear to be the best means of transportation for last-mile deliveries by mega-US corporations.
As for all the airline pilots who are getting laid off - your next calling could be a Walmart drone pilot.