Tech Tuesday: Walmart unveils drone delivery service

Tech Tuesday

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The nation’s largest retailer is launching a new delivery service using autonomous drones. In the story above, we get a behind the scenes look at Walmart’s new on demand delivery service.

The first location is near the company’s Arkansas headquarters.

While the supply chain backlog continues to choke ports and trucking routes, many companies are looking to the skies for solutions.

“It’s unbelievably exciting we’ve been working towards this day for many many years,” said Liam O’Connor, Zipline’s chief operating officer.

“We have done over 220,000 commercial deliveries in overseas markets. For us the promise of ultrafast delivery is really to give access to all kinds of communities to all kinds of products,” said O’Connor.

Once a customer places an order, items are packaged inside a specially designed box with a parachute.

“Next we’ll install the parachute and load the package into the payload bay. Next step will be to install the battery,” he said.

For now, they’re able to drop payloads within a 50 mile radius of Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Walmart and Zipline hope to expand nationwide.

“If our customers enjoy the service we’ll scale it so in future holidays this is probably going to play a really great part in getting things in a hurry,” said Tom Ward.

Ward runs Walmart’s “Last Mile” delivery operations.

“Customers expect us to save them money, they need us to save them time, and when it comes to saving time what better way to do it than via a drone,” he said.

Zipline is part of a small group of companies looking to make commercial drone delivery more accessible and with more drones flying over homes, businesses and people below there’s the question of safety.

The aircraft can fly for 2.5 hours on its battery has a parachute if it ever loses power.

Currently, this service is free. There is no cost to the customer, as both Walmart and Zipline gather data and feedback to see if this is something folks here really want. If so, the plan is to expand this service across the country.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.