Walmart to test drone delivery of groceries, household items

In a bid to bolster its delivery business, Walmart Inc. announced plans Wednesday to test an automated drone delivery program for groceries and household products.

In partnership with Flytrex, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail behemoth launched the on-demand delivery program on Wednesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with cloud-controlled drones picking up and dropping off select items, Reuters reported.

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer products, stated in a company blog post.

“The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will help us gain valuable insight into the customer and associate experience – from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery,” he added.

Walmart’s foray into automated-drone delivery is not the first.

The Federal Aviation Administration in late August approved Amazon Prime Air service, which will also use drones to deliver packages.

According to USA Today, the FAA issued a “Part 135 air carrier certificate using unmanned aircraft systems” to Amazon and has issued similar certificates to Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, and UPS Flight Forward. Walgreens, however, was the first U.S. company to offer on-demand drone delivery, debuting its program in Christiansburg, Virginia, one year ago.