Walmart Is Adding More Drones and Robots to Its Workforce

Walmart Is Adding More Drones and Robots to Its Workforce
Walmart is expanding its collaboration with DroneUp to cover 34 areas in six states. (Photo: Walmart)

Walmart announced today in a press release that they are expanding their drone delivery fleet to bring customers their orders. The retailer is also looking to rollout more warehouse robots.

Walmart has apparently been working on their delivery via drone service for the last year, having partnered with DroneUp, a pre-existing drone delivery logistics company. Walmart is now looking forward to service upwards of 4 million households in six U.S. states including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. Customers at participating Walmarts will be able to place orders between 8 AM and 8 PM for up to 10 pounds of product, and for a $US3.99 ($6) delivery fee, can have their order softly dropped on their front lawn.

“After completing hundreds of deliveries within a matter of months across our existing DroneUp hubs, we’ve seen firsthand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast,” the company said in their release. “More importantly, we’ve seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service.”

Walmart says that their service is completely compliant with FAA guidelines and hopes to complete the rollout of this phase of their new delivery system by the end of 2022. The company also mentioned that in their pilot programs, they expected customers taking advantage of the drone service to order emergency goods, but quickly noticed that shoppers were ordering everyday items: the most popular of which was Hamburger Helper.

At the same time, Walmart is also expanding its collaboration with Massachusetts-based robotics company Symbotic. Symbotic’s warehouse system is “end-to-end,” where robots are involved in every process from unloading product to building pallets for shipment to stores. Previously, Symbotic’s AI guided warehouse robots could be found in 25 Walmart warehouses, but yesterday the robotics company announced that they are looking to nearly double that number to put their supply chain robots in 42 of Walmart’s warehouses.

When you hear about a company stepping into the “future” with warehouses full of autonomous AI robots and drone delivery, Walmart probably isn’t at the top of the list. The retail giant has fumbled during past attempts at modernising, but their new tech prospects look promising, and could put pressure on companies like Target and Amazon to follow suit.