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.