Walmart said yesterday that it will "run a pilot project for delivery of grocery and household products through automated drones, along with end-to-end delivery firm Flytrex, as the U.S. retailer looks to beef up its delivery business," CNBC reports.
The test starts this week in Fayetteville, North Carolina, "with cloud-controlled drones picking up and dropping off select items."
Bloomberg writes that "the move follows Walmart’s attempt to counter Amazon’s popular Prime service with its own membership program, dubbed Walmart+, which debuts Sept. 15. The two rivals have both acquired millions of customers during the pandemic thanks to their low prices and convenient shopping options, and the key now is to hold onto them by making it even easier to purchase the millions of everyday items they carry.
"Amazon has a head start with drones, as last month it became one of only a handful of companies certified by the U.S. government to operate as a drone airline. That allows Amazon to begin its first commercial deliveries in the U.S. under a trial program, using the high-tech devices it unveiled for that purpose last year."
“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,” Tom Ward, senior vice-president, customer products, said in a statement.
- KC's View:
But maybe not quite as much like science fiction as might have been believed just a few years ago.
It wasn't that long ago that drone deliveries seemed like a flight of fancy - literally - but the acceptance and regulation of the technology has moved quicker than many of us might have expected.
These days, the only delivery system that might legitimately be defined as science fiction would be Star Trek's transporter. And I'll probably get proven wrong on that point sooner rather than later.