Walmart has invested in a growing drone delivery company called DroneUp after a trial run last year with automated deliveries of coronavirus nasal swab testing kits as the world’s top retailer seeks out drone based deliveries at a larger scale.
“The trial showed we can give customers delivery in minutes instead of hours. Now, after safely performing hundreds of drone based deliveries from Walmart locations, we are making a large investment in the company DroneUp to keep our work going towards creating a growing last mile delivery ability., Walmart’s U.S. CEO John Furner said in his blog post this Thursday.
Crucial to last-mile delivery using drones is the company’s expansive nationwide footprint, with over 4,700 stores across the country and 90% of American citizens living within 10 miles of one of their stores, the CEO pointed out.
“Performing drone deliveries at this scale is becoming within reach. DroneUp’s experienced when combined with our large footprint and great history of logistics innovation places us right in the perfect spot for that day. Because for the future of drone delivery, we understand the sky is the limit., Furner explained.
According to the CEO, the investment into DroneUp “won’t only apply to the skies but also to the ground.” The executive then revealed the retailer will start partnering with DroneUp at a location in Bentonville, Arkansas — Walmart’s founding city — “in the next months.”
The DroneUp investment comes after Walmart’s investment in San Francisco-founded Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of GM, that is the only self-driving auto company with a fleet of completely electric vehicles using 100% renewable energy.
Walmart also has two more drone trials going on — one for essential items and select groceries in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in connection with Flytrex and another one for health products with a company called Zipline in Arkansas.