This week saw a significant development for the drone delivery sector as Rwanda, working with Zipline of San Francisco, became the first nation to launch a national drone delivery network.
It had never been done before, but the drone company’s cooperation with the Rwandan government allow it to extend its service to the entire nation. But after hearing the news, some people may have wondered: Where is the U.S.’s national drone delivery service?
It may take years, or even decades, before such a service can be used in Los Angeles, New York City, and anywhere in between due to the cumbersome pace of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, which historically have sacrificed speed for more privacy and security.
However, one team appears to dominate the competition to create the biggest drone delivery footprint. Customers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona will be able to use the firms’ services thanks to a trio of new markets that Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and its drone delivery partner DroneUp announced on Friday.
Two locations, Glendale and Peoria, Arizona, will host the service. Additionally, it will run in Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth region and Florida’s Tampa and Orlando regions.
Following a May announcement that the service would expand to six states and 4 million people by the end of the year, the expansion brings 22 outlets and 16 new cities to the companies’ network.
The CEO of DroneUp, Tom Walker, stated, “Our objective is to establish the gold standard for drone delivery and, through our partnership with Walmart, provide the great benefits that drones offer to local communities, organizations, and enterprises. “Our strategy is unique; we prioritize security and deploy cutting-edge technology.”
Walmart customers must be a mile or less from a participating store to use DroneUp delivery. Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time, customers can purchase more than 10,000 different products from the DroneUp website, including delicate items like eggs. After an order is place, it is load, package, and sent by a cable that descends into the customer’s yard.
While some drone delivery services promise delivery in little more than 30 minutes, the firms advertise deliveries in as little as 30 minutes, which is noticeably slower. On the other hand, the service from Walmart and DroneUp has just a $3.99 delivery price and no order minimum. That is less expensive than other competing services, which may tack on those terms to boost their unit economics.
Customers have always asked for the service’s convenience, said Walmart.
“While it might seem like a cutting-edge conclusion, it gives our customers what they’ve always wanted—time to focus on what matters most. According to Walmart’s U.S. vice president of innovation and automation, Vik Gopalakrishnan.
Walmart and DroneUp started providing COVID-19 tests from an El Paso, Texas, shop in 2020, marking the start of their collaboration. Less than a year later, the enormous retailer revealed plans to start making deliveries in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart’s hometown, and made a major investment in the drone delivery service.
Interestingly, the service offered by Walmart and DroneUp does not rely on an FAA Part 135 waiver, which would allow operators to fly BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight). Instead, the businesses have chosen to only fly their drones in areas where DroneUp pilots can see them, limiting their range to just 1.5 miles.
DroneUp has previously stated that it anticipates being able to fulfill orders over distances of up to 10 miles by 2023, but this week it highlighted its partnership with the FAA.
As we construct an infrastructure that enables growth and fantastic career plans for operators now and in the future, Walker said on Friday, “Our good partnership with the FAA has also been important to our success.”
Walmart and DroneUp hope to begin more drone delivery services by the end of the year in Utah and Virginia, where DroneUp just enlarged its Virginia Beach headquarters.
When fully operational, the service will have the widest client reach of any drone delivery network in the United States.