Walmart eyes scaling up drone delivery

After a test with drone services provider DroneUp, the retailer looks to extend the last-mile delivery option to more stores.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Walmart extended its partnership with DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, scaling up the last-mile delivery option.

Walmart piloted a trial with DroneUp last year and after hundreds of deliveries from Walmart stores, the retailer is growing the capability. The retailer said in a blog post from John Furner, CEO and president of Walmart U.S., that the infrastructure is in place — 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 items of the most purchased items located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, making it primed for drone delivery.

Furner said in the post that DroneUp operates an on-demand drone delivery network that matches their database of more than 10,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified pilots to missions nationwide, and that the retailer has been leaning on the company for its technological expertise to ensure highest levels of safety with every delivery.

DroneUp was the first operator to use the FAA 107.39 waiver, an operation that allows for delivery flights to be conducted over people and moving vehicles, he added. DroneUp operates commercially throughout the U.S. and is an authorized government drone services provider for 11 U.S. states serving public sector organizations. The first drone operations will begin out of a Bentonville, Ark.-based store, where Walmart is headquartered.

The move joins Walmart’s other investment in an all-electric fleet of autonomous vehicles through a partnership with Cruise.