Retail giant Walmart has started testing drone delivery of grocery and household essential items in a bid to take on e-commerce giant Amazon.
Walmart said it has partnered with Israel-based drone delivery company Flytrex to launch the pilot in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Wednesday.
“Our latest initiative has us exploring how drones can deliver items in a way that’s convenient, safe, and — you guessed it – fast,” Tom Ward, Senior Vice President, Customer Product, Walmart, said in a blog post.
“The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will help us gain valuable insight into the customer and associate experience, from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery,” Ward said.
Walmart’s move comes at a time when e-commerce has gained prominence due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Amazon late last month said that it had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US for drone delivery of packages.
With the possession of what is called Part 135 air carrier certificate, Amazon can run its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones.
Following the crucial approval, Amazon said it will start testing customer deliveries.
Walmart said that the learnings from pilots such as the one started in North Carolina will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale.
“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Ward said.
“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,” he added.