Starting next year, certain Walmart orders will literally fly to your door.
The retailer announced a trial run with medical supply drone delivery company Zipline early Monday. Only medical and health and wellness products from Walmart will be part of the pilot program and it’ll only be in Northwest Arkansas in early 2021.
The drones will cover a 50-mile radius around Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. They can haul up to four pounds of cargo and fly up to 80 mph.
Items ordered online or through the Walmart app are placed into a Zipline delivery box which attaches to the drone. The products, whether headache medicine or disinfecting wipes, come from a nearby Walmart store. The order then flies a preprogrammed route to the customer’s door where the box parachutes down. The drone returns back to a hub or base.
Zipline has previously worked in Rwanda and Ghana to delivery medical supplies by drone. Since the COVID-19 outbreak it’s been delivering personal protective equipment and medicine to a North Carolina hospital. After the trial period Walmart said the delivery program could expand, both in coverage and what the drones carry.
Walmart is racing against Amazon, which received FAA approval for its Prime Air drone delivery system last month. The online retailer hasn’t started yet, but it plans to deliver orders within 30 minutes.
In North Carolina, Walmart is already testing drone deliveries with an Israeli drone company. Those fly-by orders started dropping this week.