BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Tom Ward, Senior Vice President, Customer Product for Walmart, says the company is taking the next step in its exploration of on-demand delivery by announcing a new pilot with Flytrex, an end-to-end drone delivery company.
The pilot launches today in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and focuses on delivering select grocery and essential household items from Walmart stores using Flytrex's automated drones.
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 wrote, "Years ago, our founder Sam Walton famously said, 'I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they've been.' It remains a guiding principle at Walmart to this day. From being an early pioneer of universal bar codes and electronic scanning cash registers to our work on autonomous vehicle delivery, we're working to understand how these technologies can impact the future of our business and help us better serve our customers."
Ward says he knows that it will be some time before the company sees millions of packages delivered via drone.
"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. Take for example our autonomous vehicle work with Gatik, Ford and Nuro. We've gained loads of valuable insight into how autonomous vehicles fit within our business," wrote Ward.
Ward says it's learnings from pilots such as this that will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale and, true to the vision of Walmart's founder.