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Walmart drone delivery service expands – here’s who can use it

Updated Dec 28th, 2022 11:30AM EST
DroneUp drones taking off for deliveries
Image: DroneUp

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If you’re thinking that using drones to ship goods to the home of customers might improve delivery times, you might be right. Several drone delivery projects exist, including Walmart’s drone partnerships. They can indeed speed up deliveries and reduce wait times. However, there are a few big caveats to be aware of before getting excited about having a drone drop fly to your house with your groceries and other products you need as fast as possible. The first one is availability. Walmart is already expanding its drone delivery service. But the coverage is still minimal, as only certain customers in Arkansas can take advantage of it.

Walmart’s drone delivery available in limited markets

Walmart launched its drone delivery service last month in partnership with Zipline. But the shipping service is only available within a 50-mile radius of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Also, only a “hand-selected group of recipients” could take advantage of it.

Walmart is moving forward with the program, The Verge notes, adding Farmington, Arkansas to the list. However, Walmart partnered with a different drone delivery system for the new market, DroneUp. The same company will handle shipping via air to other markets in the state. Rogers sand Bentonville customers will be able to order delivery via drone from Walmart in the coming months.

The DroneUp quadcopters will deliver within a one-mile radius of a Walmart store. Once they reach their destination, they’ll lower the packages via ziplines. The service is available seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. To place orders for drone delivery, you’ll have to head to this link.

The special rules for the new shipping service

Walmart’s drone delivery service has other limitations to be aware of. You can’t use your drones to do all the Walmart shopping you need. Not all the products the retailer stocks will be available for drone deliveries. There are weight considerations in place, as drones can only ship up to four pounds of goods. That means you have to be careful how you mix and match the products that you want to be delivered to your home via drone. In other words, you won’t be able to speed up your Walmart Black Friday deals deliveries with the help of drones.

You can always divide your shopping list into multiple deliveries to meet the weight rule. But that’s when you’ll discover that each trip costs $10. That might be great for emergency buys, like a pack of diapers or baby formula. But stacking those drone deliveries up will impact your budget.

Finally, the drone delivery might indeed be faster and eco-friendlier than traditional means. But Walmart doesn’t provide any guarantees. DroneUp says customers can get their orders in 30 minutes, which might happen. But it makes no promises about delivery times.

While driving involves dealing with traffic, flying a drone can also be perilous. Factors like the weather and the equipment might lead to delays. Also, the more people order goods with drone shipping, the longer the wait times will be. That said, DroneUp says that each hub can launch multiple flights per hour, which means that plenty of drones will be in operation in those markets.

Considering that drones operate within that one-mile radius, it might be more convenient to go to the nearest Walmart to pick up the goods.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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