Walmart is doubling down on its drone delivery efforts, announcing a new partnership with Wing, an Alphabet-owned drone delivery provider. This collaboration will bring air delivery services to an additional 60,000 homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, including the transportation of items like frozen goods and fragile products.
The service is set to kick off in the coming weeks, offering deliveries in under 30 minutes from a Walmart store in Frisco. Another drone hub will open in the vicinity later this year, further expanding the reach of the service.
Over the past two years, Walmart has conducted over 10,000 deliveries from 36 stores across seven states, including drone hubs operated in the Dallas area in conjunction with partner DroneUp. This new partnership with Wing holds the potential to significantly accelerate Walmart’s drone delivery initiatives.
Prathibha Rajashekhar, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Automation for Walmart U.S., expressed in the announcement, “With drones that can fly beyond the visual line of sight, we’re able to unlock on-demand delivery for customers living within an approximate 6-mile range of the stores that offer the service.”
While drone delivery has faced challenges, such as regulatory restrictions and public acceptance, McKinsey’s analysis indicates that the cost-effectiveness and lower CO2 emissions of drone deliveries are promising. They estimate that when operators can manage 20 drones simultaneously, the cost per package delivery will be approximately $1.50 to $2, aligning with the costs of electric cars delivering five packages or vans handling 100 packages in a single trip.
However, the main hurdle remains consumer acceptance. A survey conducted by Morning Consult in June 2022 found that 57% of American adults have trust issues with drone delivery. Concerns include unsuccessful deliveries (80%), data privacy (71%), air traffic safety (66%), and job loss (65%).
Yariv Bash, CEO of drone delivery startup Flytrex, addressed these concerns in a recent column for Progressive Grocer, stating that while many concerns have been addressed, there is still work to be done to achieve full consumer acceptance.
As Walmart and Wing expand their drone delivery services, their success will not only depend on technical capabilities but also on addressing these consumer concerns to make drone deliveries a trusted and widely accepted mode of transportation.