Walmart launches pilot program to deliver orders via automated drones

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,507   +122
Staff member
Editor's take: The idea of delivering packages via aerial drones has been in the mainstream for nearly a decade now. While several companies have made meaningful progress, it still feels like we are many years away from seeing drones zipping around above us on the regular.

Walmart has partnered with on-demand drone delivery company Flytrex on a pilot program to determine the feasibility of using automated drones to deliver select goods to local shoppers.

The pilot launched this week in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Walmart said it hopes to gain valuable insight into both the employee and customer experience, from packaging a shipment all the way through to delivery.

Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product at Walmart, said they know it’ll be some time before they are delivering millions of packages via drone. “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.”

Amazon popularized the concept of using drones to deliver products when CEO Jeff Bezos teased the idea during a 60 Minutes interview way back in 2013. Progress has been made in the nearly seven years that have since elapsed, by Amazon and others, but as Ward correctly notes, it still kind of feels a bit like science fiction.

Having a full-scale drone delivery service in place would benefit both consumers and retailers as it would limit physical contact, no doubt important as the world continues to deal with Covid-19.

Permalink to story.

 

Endymio

Posts: 302   +179
>> "Walmart launches pilot program to deliver orders via automated drones"

Isn't that somewhat redundant?
 

TomSEA

Posts: 3,268   +1,912
I know Amazon tried this a few years back and nothing came of it. In fact, testing for the Amazon drone delivery happened in the rural area where I live. And after a couple of well-publicized drone wrecks, I'm pretty sure Amazon gave the idea up.
 

Axil00

Posts: 32   +41
I know Amazon tried this a few years back and nothing came of it. In fact, testing for the Amazon drone delivery happened in the rural area where I live. And after a couple of well-publicized drone wrecks, I'm pretty sure Amazon gave the idea up.
Nobody is giving up on drone delivery long term.

Ultimately the delivery method with the potential to be faster, cheaper AND safer will win out.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 269   +299
I know Amazon tried this a few years back and nothing came of it. In fact, testing for the Amazon drone delivery happened in the rural area where I live. And after a couple of well-publicized drone wrecks, I'm pretty sure Amazon gave the idea up.
Amazon is still working on this, I personally know an engineer involved in the project.
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,304   +905
Yep this will work like the new MS Surface Duo. I'm excited. I will bet the drones have good hinges
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,330   +2,210
Yep this will work like the new MS Surface Duo. I'm excited. I will bet the drones have good hinges
I know Amazon tried this a few years back and nothing came of it. In fact, testing for the Amazon drone delivery happened in the rural area where I live. And after a couple of well-publicized drone wrecks, I'm pretty sure Amazon gave the idea up.
Yeah... and those newfangled smartphones will never amount to anything either...

With the amount of money and research being spent on this, it's almost a given that it WILL happen... it's only the timing that is in any real doubt.

Embrace the future - or be that guy who tells everyone to "get off my lawn!"
 

TheBigFatClown

Posts: 808   +303
"Having a full-scale drone delivery service in place would benefit both consumers and retailers as it would limit physical contact, no doubt important as the world continues to deal with Covid-19."

Humans were designed to be with each other, not kept apart. Stop drinking the kool-aid.

Nobody is giving up on drone delivery long term.

Ultimately the delivery method with the potential to be faster, cheaper AND safer will win out.
Safer? The same hand that feeds you can also kill you. This move looks like more social conditioning so that people accept 300 drones flying over their head at any one time as a normal thing. Just like they are conditioning people to think that wearing a mask anytime you're in the proximity of another human being is normal and keeps you safe.

COVID-19 is statistically less deadly than the regular seasonal flu it seems.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,330   +2,210
COVID-19 is statistically less deadly than the regular seasonal flu it seems.
Really? Care to provide any evidence for that? COVID has killed just under 200,000 people in the US alone in less than a year:


Here's the CDC's stats on deaths from the flu each year:


It's about 50k a year - terrible, and definitely worth taking a flu shot (but I'm sure you think those are government plots to enslave you or give your kids autism, right?), but not nearly as much as COVID has killed in less than a year.

Maybe stop listening to your president and do some actual thinking of your own?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Godel

TomSEA

Posts: 3,268   +1,912
Yeah... and those newfangled smartphones will never amount to anything either...

With the amount of money and research being spent on this, it's almost a given that it WILL happen... it's only the timing that is in any real doubt.

Embrace the future - or be that guy who tells everyone to "get off my lawn!"
Heh...I never said it wouldn't happen. Just recanting what happened in my area when Amazon was first testing it out a couple of years ago. One of their crashed drones even caused a small field fire.
 

Endymio

Posts: 302   +179
Really? Care to provide any evidence for that? COVID has killed just under 200,000 people in the US alone in less than a year:
A. Covid is the novel coronavirus. Novel = new. In a couple years, vaccine or no vaccine, Covid deaths will drop off a cliff.. Meanwhile, the flu has killed roughly 450,000 people in the last ten years, and will continue at that rate for the next ten.

B. Even this year, the common flu has killed more children than has Covid. Covid is certainly more deadly for the elderly, but its overall case fatality rate is essentially equal to the flu.

C. The current CDC guidelines are overcounting Covid deaths. The guidelines do not require a positive test for Covid, and no exact determination of cofactors either.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheBigFatClown

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,330   +2,210
A. Covid is the novel coronavirus. Novel = new. In a couple years, vaccine or no vaccine, Covid deaths will drop off a cliff.. Meanwhile, the flu has killed roughly 450,000 people in the last ten years, and will continue at that rate for the next ten.

B. Even this year, the common flu has killed more children than has Covid. Covid is certainly more deadly for the elderly, but its overall case fatality rate is essentially equal to the flu.

C. The current CDC guidelines are overcounting Covid deaths. The guidelines do not require a positive test for Covid, and no exact determination of cofactors either.
Well obviously it's new - hence the pandemic... we're not talking about how deadly it will be once we have a cure/vaccine!!

If people would take the flu shot, they'd be far less deaths from it as well...

And we don't know enough about COVID yet to be certain that it's not as deadly to children - for all we know, a second wave will hit that affects them harder.... I really hope not, as I'm a teacher and we start on Tuesday!!

Since the Flu is over 100 years old, obviously it has killed far more people... but not in the past year!

As for COVID deaths being over-reported.... we don't really know that. Since so many people aren't getting tested, it might be UNDER-reported...

The problem is that many Americans - especially political leaders!! - aren't taking it very seriously...

Yes, a 1-2% death rate seems small when you're only thinking of yourself.... but if 300 million people catch it, that's 4-5 million deaths!!
 

Endymio

Posts: 302   +179
If people would take the flu shot, they'd be far less deaths from it as well...
Not "far" less... roughly 1/3 less. The flu vaccine most years runs about 40-50% efficacy ... but the immune response it triggers among those most susceptible to flu complications is somewhat lower.

...we don't know enough about COVID yet to be certain that it's not as deadly to children...
Nonsense. We have data from nearly 30 million cases wordwide: orders of magnitude more data than we need to establish an accurate case fatality rate.

As for COVID deaths being over-reported.... we don't really know that.
Yes, we do. When your diagnostic protocol parameters are set to minimize Type II errors, there is a corresponding increase in Type I errors. Basic statistics. You can debate how large the overreporting delta is, but not that it exists.

Since the Flu is over 100 years old, obviously it has killed far more people... but not in the past year!
But society doesn't screech to a halt at the end of the year, or even the November elections. If your concern is for the total effect on the country, then you need to look ahead. Covid is a short-term blip in a flu epidemic that will kill far more people overall.

Yes, a 1-2% death rate seems small when you're only thinking of yourself.... but if 300 million people catch it, that's 4-5 million deaths!!
Not 1-2%. The best estimates are around 1/10 of that, or 0.2%, or in the range of most flu strains.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: TheBigFatClown

brucek

Posts: 494   +567
TechSpot Elite
Is anybody discussing how many of these things will be allowed in the air at one time yet? I assume at minimum the safety aspect will be heavily regulated, but I'm wondering more about noise and visual pollution. A shot of a lone drone delivering a single package is kind of cute and intriguing. But tens of thousands operating 24x7, blotting out half the light, and making a never-ending ruckus is considerably less so.
 

Fuchsia2020

Posts: 8   +4
A. Covid is the novel coronavirus. Novel = new. In a couple years, vaccine or no vaccine, Covid deaths will drop off a cliff.. Meanwhile, the flu has killed roughly 450,000 people in the last ten years, and will continue at that rate for the next ten.

B. Even this year, the common flu has killed more children than has Covid. Covid is certainly more deadly for the elderly, but its overall case fatality rate is essentially equal to the flu.

C. The current CDC guidelines are overcounting Covid deaths. The guidelines do not require a positive test for Covid, and no exact determination of cofactors either.
And the test is an unreliable method. The P.C.R. testing for any sort of virus, no matter what it is, will be a coin flip as being valid. Just search for 2007 the whooping cough epidemic that never was, and that may be a clue. The inventor of test said it should not be used to test a virus. Whatever is going on, people getting sick with a covid during Summertime, is rather odd. Never happened before -- did not happen during the Spanish Flu season of 2017 in the USA, where it first started. Beyond the CDC records of 9,000 or some deaths directly caused by COVID19, assuming it is a novel virus, it is hard to tell to what degree any of the other deaths were actually caused by. As for the flu, we have only estimates of flu deaths each and every year -- this reporting to the digit is something new. The USA and the world do not normally report figures -- they gather data they can, and the give a guesstimate. I hope we all survive the rest of what's in-store....
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheBigFatClown

Fuchsia2020

Posts: 8   +4
Well obviously it's new - hence the pandemic... we're not talking about how deadly it will be once we have a cure/vaccine!!

If people would take the flu shot, they'd be far less deaths from it as well...

And we don't know enough about COVID yet to be certain that it's not as deadly to children - for all we know, a second wave will hit that affects them harder.... I really hope not, as I'm a teacher and we start on Tuesday!!

Since the Flu is over 100 years old, obviously it has killed far more people... but not in the past year!

As for COVID deaths being over-reported.... we don't really know that. Since so many people aren't getting tested, it might be UNDER-reported...

The problem is that many Americans - especially political leaders!! - aren't taking it very seriously...

Yes, a 1-2% death rate seems small when you're only thinking of yourself.... but if 300 million people catch it, that's 4-5 million deaths!!
How do you know it is new? Do you know what a P.C.R. test is and its accuracy?
Never had a flu shot - never had the flu.
Most varieties of the flu / covid do hit children more than the elderly -- so this last season is odd, and/or misreported numbers. Mistakes in care homes, as in placing those with flu back into centers?
The flu kills and ESTIMATED up to 650K in the world each year.
The CDC released the numbers of actual COVID assigned deaths -- under a tad over 9,000 in USA.
No flu virus has ever infected 300 million in the USA -- that would be one heck of a weaponized virus.
Americans are not taking seriously what is actually going on the the world about them -- the real problem.
Flu can indeed mutate, or at least this is what they say, and it usually gets milder. I think you will be A-OK, just avoid overuse of masks and breath - get sunlight, take vitamin D3 and avoid fake news, as in most every channel you switch on. Also avoid the Socialist virus, it appears to be catchy.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheBigFatClown

Mister_K

Posts: 1,946   +626
You certainly need a way to prevent them being shot down.
You also need to reduce the noise pollution the blades generate.

Sort of reminds me of this short:
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,330   +2,210
How do you know it is new? Do you know what a P.C.R. test is and its accuracy?
Never had a flu shot - never had the flu.
Most varieties of the flu / covid do hit children more than the elderly -- so this last season is odd, and/or misreported numbers. Mistakes in care homes, as in placing those with flu back into centers?
The flu kills and ESTIMATED up to 650K in the world each year.
The CDC released the numbers of actual COVID assigned deaths -- under a tad over 9,000 in USA.
No flu virus has ever infected 300 million in the USA -- that would be one heck of a weaponized virus.
Americans are not taking seriously what is actually going on the the world about them -- the real problem.
Flu can indeed mutate, or at least this is what they say, and it usually gets milder. I think you will be A-OK, just avoid overuse of masks and breath - get sunlight, take vitamin D3 and avoid fake news, as in most every channel you switch on. Also avoid the Socialist virus, it appears to be catchy.
I think you need to start researching a little harder... if you really think COVID-19 is a worldwide conspiracy, maybe you should talk to the people who are sick with it right now... or the hundreds of thousands who have died around the world... what possible gain would every government in the world have by faking this?
The flu is quite dangerous - I agree! But COVID is much deadlier - heck, even Trump admitted it in Woodward's book!
Please, stop spreading misinformation that "all is well", as this is one of the big reasons it continues to spread!
 

Endymio

Posts: 302   +179
The flu is quite dangerous - I agree! But COVID is much deadlier
The common flu is much more dangerous to children. This is simple fact. Last time I checked the 0-14 bracket numbers, Covid had killed 61, compared to the flu at 110 deaths. And this is a very light flu year, but the worst year Covid will have in all history. Next year the flu will kill three or four times as many children, and Covid few at all.

You judge the deadliness of a disease by its case mortality rate. Across all age brackets, flu strains run about 0.1 - 0.2%. Covid now appears to be at about 0.2%. One positive about Covid is that it is highly sensitive to age. Compared to the reference group, the CDC says deaths in those under 17 are 16 times lower than average, whereas those in the 75-84 bracket have 220 times as many deaths, and those in the 85+ bracket 630 times as many. The sad truth is, had we not attempted lockdowns, and simply segregated the elderly for a brief 90-day period while we allowed the rest of the population to gain herd immunity, we would have actually saved a large number of lives.

Please, stop spreading misinformation that "all is well", as this is one of the big reasons it continues to spread!
Covid continues to spread because its an infectious airborne respiratory virus with an R-nought greater than unity. Not because of how or what people feel about it. Covid will continue to spread throughout the entire world population, vaccine or no vaccine ... just as the flu does. The flu strain that killed 50 million people in the 1918 epidemic is still out there in the wild today, infecting people every year. Mankind has never been able to eradicate any highly infectious respiratory virus, and no amount of proper "feelings" will cause that to change.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheBigFatClown

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,330   +2,210
The flu strain that killed 50 million people in the 1918 epidemic is still out there in the wild today, infecting people every year. Mankind has never been able to eradicate any highly infectious respiratory virus, and no amount of proper "feelings" will cause that to change.
Yes... it killed 50 million people in 1918 - and now it "only" kills around 40-50k per year... that's a HUGE improvement I'd say...

Covid obviously hasn't killed as many as the flu did in 1918 - but that's because the world's medical advances have been enormous. Had COVID hit in 1918, it would probably have killed 50+ million as well...

And while the flu shot vaccine is only 45-60% effective (it varies by year), we still have NOTHING for COVID... I'd take a 50% vaccine over nothing any day...
 

Endymio

Posts: 302   +179
Covid obviously hasn't killed as many as the flu did in 1918 - but that's because the world's medical advances have been enormous. Had COVID hit in 1918, it would probably have killed 50+ million as well...
Stuff and nonsense. For ICU hospital presentations of Covid cases, the mortality rate is 30 to 50%. Even assuming the worst-case scenario of a 100% nonpresentation mortality rate of 100%, that means that if every single Covid victim received no medical attention whatsoever, the death figures would only be some 2 to 3 times higher. When it comes to respiratory viruses, medical science is far from all-conquering.

Yes... it killed 50 million people in 1918 - and now it "only" kills around 40-50k per year... that's a HUGE improvement I'd say...
You're still disregarding the point. Those numbers dropped not because of how people "felt" or even how they acted towards the flu, but simply because of acquisition of herd immunity. Had the entire world population engaged in a total shutdown and cessation of all economic and social intercourse, the death figure for 1918 alone would indeed have been lower ... but the total deaths for 1918 onward would not have diminished. If anything, they would have increased slightly.

As I expect Neeyik to arrive shortly and slap me about for diverging off-topic, this will be my final post on the subject.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheBigFatClown

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,330   +2,210
You're still disregarding the point. Those numbers dropped not because of how people "felt" or even how they acted towards the flu, but simply because of acquisition of herd immunity. Had the entire world population engaged in a total shutdown and cessation of all economic and social intercourse, the death figure for 1918 alone would indeed have been lower ... but the total deaths for 1918 onward would not have diminished. If anything, they would have increased slightly.

As I expect Neeyik to arrive shortly and slap me about for diverging off-topic, this will be my final post on the subject.
I fail to see how "herd immunity" has happened... or will happen... please feel free to give some evidence for this nonsense.

COVID will almost definitely be less dangerous than the flu LATER.... but NOT RIGHT NOW!!

Once we have more knowledge in treating it, vaccines (or hopefully, even a cure), etc, will make it something no one thinks twice about...

Much like the measles, hepatitis, rubella, etc. today... deadly fatal, but now that we have vaccines for them, not really a problem (except for anti-vaxxers who screw it up for everyone!).

The problem is RIGHT NOW, people are treating COVID like it's just an "old people disease" and are spreading it to everyone....
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,304   +905
Yeah... and those newfangled smartphones will never amount to anything either...

With the amount of money and research being spent on this, it's almost a given that it WILL happen... it's only the timing that is in any real doubt.

Embrace the future - or be that guy who tells everyone to "get off my lawn!"
So, What's it like to not have a lawn? Embrace? Means nothing it is used so much. I can see you are a product of your time as I am.
 
Amazon is still working on this, I personally know an engineer involved in the project.
Great, tell him to get his act in gear. Last year my fifth grade daughter build a GPS controlled octocopter that worked perfectly moving 4 pounds from anywhere to anywhere, as her science project and I neither of us are claiming to be an engineer of any kind whatsoever. Sounds like they need a new engineer over there...or fifth graders telling them what's what.