World’s Largest Retailer Testing Drone Delivery in Arkansas
If there's one thing that the Coronavirus Pandemic has forced us to be good at, it's shopping while making little to no contact with our fellow man. I'm sure that we will get to hang out with each other soon enough (as in: closer than 6 feet), but do you really want to when it comes to grocery shopping?
Seriously, how convenient is it to simply pick up your purchases drive-thru style? Or, even better, have someone bring them to you! I live on the 3rd floor, so that option is ever so attractive to me, personally. But in the age of high technology (and anxiety), surely we can do better at getting our stuff and isolating ourselves - right?
The answer is - absolutely. Walmart is testing out 2 new drone delivery systems right now. If the tests are successful, these delivery programs could be in place for consumers as early as the beginning of next year. The world's largest retailer is testing drone deliveries for select household grocery items within a certain radius (still being determined) using traditional drones, and a high-speed bomber exclusively for health and wellness products.
The drone delivery pilot program is underway now in North Carolina as Walmart desperately races to work the bugs out of the system so they can bring their service to the general public before competitors (namely Amazon Prime Air) can. Amazon is aiming for 30 minute delivery by autonomous drone, and Walmart wants to match or beat it.
Closer to home, Walmart's health and wellness drone delivery program is also being tested now in Northern Arkansas thanks to a partnership with drone experts Zipline. Zipline has made quite the name for itself as a reliable, innovative, and economical way to deliver vital medical supplies around the world. According to a report from Forbes, this Rwandan 2016 startup has delivered more than "200,000 critical medical products to thousands of health facilities serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries."
Zipline's drones are small, conventional airplanes. Not the quad or hexacopter format you're probably thinking of.
These fly low, at speeds up to 80 miles an hour. When they reach the target zone, they release their payload - literally bombing you with your package. The company claims they will be able to hit a target the size of a parked car with your parachuted goods. If everything works as planned Walmart could hit any house in a 50 mile radius of the launch site/store with a payload of up to 3 and 1/2 pounds in a matter of minutes.
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