US-based retailer Walmart is boosting its efforts to develop a last-mile delivery solution by investing in drone services provider DroneUp.
A Virginia based start-up, DroneUp provides authorised government drone services for 11 US states serving public sector organisations, as well as operating commercially across the country.
Last year, the two companies partnered to pilot deliveries of at-home Covid-19 self-collection kits. Since then, hundreds of deliveries have been sent out from Walmart stores via drones.
Walmart US CEO and president John Furner said: “DroneUp operates an on-demand drone delivery network that matches their database of more than 10,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified pilots to missions nationwide.
“Since partnering with DroneUp last year, we’ve valued their technological expertise, world-class operations, experienced management team and commitment to helping the FAA ensure the highest levels of safety with every delivery.”
Walmart currently has more than 4,700 stores, which house more than 100,000 of its most-purchased items.
Last September, the retailer established a partnership with drone delivery service provider Zipline to trial a new service.
The service was tested in the US, serving from Walmart stores to distances of 50 miles.
In the same month, the retailer started a pilot with Flytrex’s automated drones in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
As part of the pilot, the partners focused on delivering select grocery and household essential items from Walmart stores.
Earlier this year, Walmart invested in General Motors subsidiary Cruise after partnering with the company to pilot self-driving delivery in Scottsdale, Arizona.
As part of the programme, the retailer will deliver some of its groceries and other items by a small fleet of all electric-powered, driverless cars, starting early next year.
The drones are controlled via the Cloud using an easy-to-use smart dashboard.