Walmart Launches Multi-Site Drone Delivery in Arkansas

Walmart DroneUp Arkansas

Just in time for the holidays, Walmart on Monday went live with drone delivery from one of three stores near its headquarters in Bentonville, AR, via partner and investment recipient DroneUp, with service running from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, and deliveries coming in 30 minutes or less.

“When we invested in DroneUp earlier this year, we envisioned a drone delivery operation that could be quickly executed and replicated across multiple stores,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart U.S. in a release. “Opening our first hub within months of our initial concept showcases DroneUp’s ability to safely execute drone delivery operations with speed. We’re already hearing great customer feedback at our first site in Farmington, AR, and look forward to opening additional locations.”

The initial drone deliveries are from the Farmington store, with service expanding to stores in Rogers, AR and Bentonville in the coming months, Walmart said. Shoppers enter their address to determine eligibility and the order is packed and secured to the drone, which is navigated to the customer’s home by an FAA certified flight engineer. The engineers can perform multiple simultaneous drone flights.

DroneUp has access to a network of more than 10,000 FAA-certified pilots, and it was the first to obtain an FAA waiver allowing delivery flights over people and moving vehicles.

In 2020, Walmart experimented with drone delivery of COVID-19 test kits to the driveways or backyards of homes in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, NY, through a partnership with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp. Walmart has also partnered with Flytrex for drone delivery pilots from stores in North Carolina, Kansas and North Dakota.

Flytrex, which this spring received FAA approval to fly over residential homes, last week announced a $40 million funding round to fuel U.S. expansion, bringing the total raised to $60 million. The company recently added a third delivery station in North Carolina, shuttling meals from area chain restaurants including Dairy Queen, Starbucks and Chilis, as well as orders from a Walmart store in Fayetteville, NC.