Walmart has found a new partner to expand its drone delivery services. The retail giant is teaming up with Wing – a drone delivery firm owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet – to reach an additional 60,000 homes in Texas.
Walmart first announced drone delivery in 2021, after conducting pilots and trials for several years to gauge both feasibility and demand. Today, this service is offered across seven states and 36 stores, and more than 10,000 deliveries have already been completed safely.
Walmart’s partner throughout this journey has been DroneUp. It’s a Virginia-based startup that Walmart has even invested in. But DroneUp operates multi-rotor aircraft that come with battery capacity limitations — part of the reason why the company is keen to test new hydrogen fuel cell technology that has the potential to increase a drone’s flight time.
Walmart, however, needs to scale now. So, the company has partnered with Wing whose drones use fixed wings to cruise like an airplane to longer distances.
Not only are these drones safe, but they are also fast. They can reach a speed of up to 65 mph while cruising, and yet, hover like a helicopter while using a tether to deliver the products gently.
It’s these capabilities that are allowing Walmart to unlock on-demand drone delivery for customers living within an approximate 6-mile range of the stores that offer the service.
“This is an exciting next step for our customers, as it provides even more access to a convenient, innovative and, most importantly, super speedy way to get the items they need,” says Prathibha Rajashekhar, SVP of innovation and automation at Walmart US.
To begin with, two Walmart Supercenters in the Dallas metro area will see Wing drones being available to ferry a range of products to an additional 60,000 homes in under 30 minutes. Customers should be able to order items like frozen treats (for when those ice cream cravings hit), household essentials, last-minute meal solutions like macaroni and cheese, and even fragile items like eggs.
More specifically, the Walmart Supercenter at 8555 Preston Road in Frisco, Texas, will be the first to launch. Once operations begin, customers can download the Wing app from the App Store or Google Play and enter their address to determine if their home is within the Wing drone delivery range.
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