Walmart announced today that it has partnered with Flytrex to start a drone delivery pilot program in Fayetville, North Carolina. The drones will deliver select groceries and household essential items.
Neither company provided more details about specific service areas or hours, but we do know that Flytrex has already been operating drone deliveries in Iceland since 2018 and more recently in North Dakota here in the U.S.
As we’ve written before about Flytrex:
The Flytrex drone is a hex-copter capable of carrying a 6.5 pound payload (enough to feed a family of four, said Bash), up to 40 m.p.h., with a range of six miles. The system is really built for suburban sprawl, and uses a tether to lower deliveries down to people when it arrives at its destination. Bash said that while a human driver can typically only make two to three deliveries an hour, a Flytrex drone operator can make up to 15.
Fytrex’s other pitch is that is has numerous safety-related redundancies that allow its drones to withstand catastrophic events like motor loss, battery loss and communication failure.
Walmart’s announcement comes just weeks after its retail rival, Amazon, won approval from the FAA for its own drone delivery program. Elsewhere in the U.S., Google Wing has been making drone deliveries in Virginia, Deuce Drone will start making grocery deliveries in Mobile, AL, and Uber had plans to do drone delivery in San Diego this summer.
But given the complexities of drone delivery (flight paths, added layers of safety in the event of a drone failure, etc.), we aren’t anywhere close to hearing a steady drone of drones overhead anytime soon. Walmart even conceded as much in its announcement today, writing, “We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”
It’s only a bit like science fiction now though.