Days after Walmart Inc. of Bentonville and drone company Zipline International Inc. began aerial deliveries in northwest Arkansas, the retail giant has announced expanded drone delivery in the region through DroneUp LLC of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Delivery through DroneUp is now available seven days a week for eligible customers in Farmington, with service scheduled to begin in the coming months from a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Rogers and a Walmart Supercenter in Bentonville, according to a news release.
Thousands of items are available for delivery in as little as 30 minutes to homes within one mile of the launch locations. Flight engineers certified by the Federal Aviation Administration manage the delivery and lower packages up to 3 pounds from a height of 80 feet.
Walmart in June announced it had invested in DroneUp, one of three drone companies it has partnered with to develop a scalable last-mile delivery system. On Thursday, as part of the retailer's partnership with Zipline, it began autonomous drone delivery of select health and wellness products in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. The company is also working with Flytrex to expand a delivery program in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart U.S., said the company invested in DroneUp with visions of an operation that could be quickly executed and replicated across multiple stores.
"Opening our first hub within months of our initial concept showcases DroneUp's ability to safely execute drone delivery operations with speed," he said in the release. "We're already hearing great customer feedback at our first site in Farmington, Arkansas, and look forward to opening additional locations."
Walmart believes its massive infrastructure – more than 4,700 stores located within 10 miles of over 90 percent of the U.S. population – positions it to be the leader in commercial drone delivery.
DroneUp CEO Tom Walker said the company's delivery operation with Walmart "marks a significant leap forward" in the broader use of drones to provide consumer services.
"Walmart and DroneUp provide an unrivaled ability to pick, pack, and deliver via drones directly from the store to consumers offering efficiencies no other retailer can match," Walker said in the release. "We are proud of our team's ability to deliver the technology helping Walmart launch a new era of commercial drone operations."