Look! Up in the sky! Walmart just expanded its drone delivery program again

Walmart's drone delivery program is still fairly small right now, but the end goal is much, much bigger.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Drone in the sky

Two years ago, Walmart began making its first delivery by drone. Since then, that program has expanded to seven states and 36 stores, with more than 10,000 deliveries completed.

Now, it's looking to expand its delivery footprint.

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Walmart has partnered with Wing, a drone delivery service owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet, to bring drone delivery to two more stores -- both in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

The first store is located on Preston Road in the city of Frisco, just north of Dallas. The second will be announced later this year. 

Within a six-mile radius of these stores, customers will be able to order household essentials, tools, over-the-counter medicines, pantry staples, frozen treats like ice cream, and even things as delicate as eggs. As long as the order weighs less than 3 pounds and it's ordered during operating hours (10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. every day except Wednesdays), it can be delivered via drone within 30 minutes.

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A human doesn't even need to be present when the drone takes off. Thanks to auto-loading technology, a person loads a package on a V-shaped tower and the drone picks it up when it can.

To use the service, customers will need to first download the Wing app to ensure their location is within the delivery zone. Once that's confirmed, they can select drone delivery at checkout. At current drone delivery locations, there's no extra charge for the service. Deliveries should begin "in the coming weeks," Walmart says.

If Walmart's 10,000 finished deliveries seem like a small sample size, consider that Wing has made over 300,000 deliveries to date, operating around the globe in cities like Queensland, Australia -- and it already operates 11 other delivery hubs in the Dallas area.

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In an interview earlier this year, Wing made it clear it's not satisfied with a small scale. The company's goal, a representative said, is making drone delivery completely normal on a massive level. By 2024, it plans on "store to door" delivery in as little as 15 minutes with 50 times the efficiency of a gas-powered delivery truck.

Should this service hit the planned scale, here's a number just for reference. A 2019 blog post from Walmart estimated that 90% of the American population lived within 10 minutes of a Walmart store. That's larger than their drone delivery range, of course, but it seems fair to say that over half of the US population lives within six miles.

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