Walmart has launched an instant drone delivery system for customers living within a 50-mile radius of its headquarters in northern Arkansas.
The retail giant has partnered with drone company Zipline to launch the new system that will offer on-demand delivery of health and wellness items and consumables within 80 km of the market. Walmart neighborhood in Pea Ridge, according to a press release.
“It’s incredibly exciting, we’ve been working towards this day for many years,” said Liam O’Connor, CEO of Zipline. told CBS News.
Zipline began operations in 2016 and to date has completed more than 200,000 deliveries of 4.5 million units of medical supplies serving more than 20 million people in multiple countries, the company said.
“We have made over 220,000 commercial deliveries to overseas markets,” said O’Connor. “For us, the promise of super-fast delivery is really to give all kinds of communities access to all kinds of products.
Once Walmart receives an order online, the items will be placed inside a specially designed box with a parachute attached, according to CBS. The packages are scanned, installed with a parachute before being loaded onto a drone in the hold. A battery is installed in the drone prior to launch for delivery from a 25-foot platform specifically designed for the aircraft.
The drone leaves for the customer’s home before dropping off the package and returning to its launch site. Customers can track their packages through the Zipline app, the company said.
The service will be free while Walmart and Zipline will collect customer feedback on the service.
Walmart and Zipline hope to grow nationwide after a successful test.
“If our customers appreciate the service, we’ll expand it, so over the next vacation it’ll probably play a really big role in speeding things up,” Tom Ward, who heads Walmart’s Last Mile delivery operation, told CBS. .
“Customers expect us to save them money, they need us to save them time and when it comes to saving time, what better way to do it than via a drone? “said Ward.
Walmart and Zipline hope to grow nationwide after a successful test. Walmart has expanded its delivery service to 3,000 of its 10,500 stores in the past three years, reaching 70 percent of the US population, the company said in the statement.