Walmart Testing Parachute-Enabled Drone Delivery

In a market where delivery issues are becoming more pronounced, Walmart is partnering with Zipline to launch a first-of-its-kind drone delivery operation in the U.S.

The new service they are developing, which literally parachutes in packages, will make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products with the potential to expand to general merchandise.

Trial deliveries will occur near Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, AK, using Zipline’s proprietary technology. Zipline will operate from a Walmart store and service a 50-mile delivery radius, which means the test will cover an area about the size of Connecticut. The Zipline launch and release system allows for quick on-demand delivery in under an hour, Walmart noted, and it eliminates carbon emissions, which addresses corporate sustainability goals. The trial will likely begin early next year, and, if successful, expand thereafter.

Zipline operates the world’s largest drone delivery network, Walmart said, and began operating in late 2016 in Rwanda primarily focusing on the on-demand delivery of medical supplies. To date, the company has safely delivered more than 200,000 critical medical products to thousands of health facilities serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries.