Walmart Starts Drone Delivery Service

Walmart Starts Drone Delivery Service

( – Drone delivery service business Zipline started delivering life-saving blood and medical supplies to remote hospitals and healthcare facilities in Rwanda and Ghana. Now, the company brings that technology to the United States. On November 18, the innovative business teamed up with Walmart to launch an autonomous drone delivery service to bring health and wellness products to people living in and around Pea Ridge, Arkansas. It will deliver goods to eligible customers residing within a 50-mile radius of the town’s neighborhood Walmart.

Tom Ward, a senior vice president of last-mile delivery for Walmart, stated the service is a game-changer for those in rural areas that are typically “hard to reach and at-risk.” The partnership marks the first commercial service of its kind.

Dones in the Sky

In addition to the new drone delivery in Arkansas, Zipline is partnering with Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah, to deliver prescriptions and medical supplies to residents in the area. CEO and co-founder of the drone company, Keller Rinaudo, pointed to the convenience of such a service. Single parents, recovering patients, and the elderly could receive what they need without leaving their homes.

At this time, not everyone in the Pea Ridge area will have access to the service. Zipline and Walmart indicated the test would only be available to a small percentage of hand-selected customers. If all goes well, they plan to expand the new delivery option.

A Turn Toward Full Automation

Those using the service can place an order through the Zipline app and select a delivery time. Employees at Walmart pack the items, which can weigh no more than four pounds. Then, the flight crew secures the order in the drone’s belly, flies to the recipient’s home, and drops it off with an attached parachute for a soft landing.

The Arkansas drone experiment isn’t Walmart’s first step toward full automation. The retail giant already offers delivery using driverless vehicles countrywide with automotive companies like Ford.

Although drone delivery might seem exciting to some and a logical step in technology, the practice isn’t without potential problems. Theft, inclement weather, powerlines, and people shooting drones out of the sky are issues businesses need to address as the practice becomes more commonplace.

With all that can go wrong to bring a package from point A to point B, you have to wonder if moving in this direction is worth the trouble at all.

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