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Walmart Will Drone Deliver to 1.8M Dallas-Fort Worth Households

The retail giant will partner with Wing and Zipline to make drone deliveries accessible for 75 percent of the area. Of the 120,000 items in a Walmart Supercenter, three-quarters are deliverable by drone.

a drone carrying a Walmart bag
Walmart will have the ability to make drone deliveries to 75 percent of Dallas-Fort Worth by the end of this year, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Tuesday.
(Walmart Inc./TNS)
Walmart says drone deliveries are no longer a futuristic idea: Let the baby wipes and forgotten birthday candles fall from the sky.

Walmart will have the ability to make drone deliveries with its partners Wing and Zipline to 75 percent of Dallas-Fort Worth by the end of this year, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Tuesday.

Walmart’s service area will cover 1.8 million households with deliveries made within a 30-minute window. Of the 120,000 items in a Supercenter, 75 percent meet the size and weight requirements for drone delivery.

This will mark the first time a U.S. retailer has offered drone delivery to this many households. Wing and Zipline are both approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and have already been operating here.

McMillon disclosed the D-FW drone plans in a keynote speech Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show, an annual event in Las Vegas attended by more than 100,000 in the tech industry. Walmart executives talked about several projects at the show that are in the works like using AI for search by event such as a football game party and speeding up the receipt verification exit line at Sam’s Club.

With two major U.S. airports and several smaller airfields in North Texas, Walmart said it’s working with its drone providers and the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure it can service as many households as possible in those neighborhoods.

Over the last two years, Walmart said has completed more than 20,000 drone deliveries, said Prathibha Rajashekhar, Walmart U.S. senior vice president, innovation and automation. “Drone delivery is not just a concept of the future, it’s happening now and will soon be a reality for millions of additional Texans.”

Last summer, Wing and Walmart launched the service from two stores in Frisco and Lewisville that would reach 60,000 homes in addition to 11 Walmart stores that were already offering drone service in some areas of Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, Murphy, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and The Colony.

Wing was the first drone delivery company in the U.S. to receive air carrier certifications and now is the first to receive FAA approval for an entire metro area, said Adam Woodworth, CEO of Wing Aviation.

“This marks a paradigm shift in the way U.S. regulators are approaching approvals” for such advanced “BVLOS” or beyond visual line of sight drone flight operations, Woodworth said.

Walmart has been testing drone deliveries in D-FW since 2021 and so has Wing, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet. Zipline and Walmart have been working together since 2021, starting out by delivering health and wellness products and some foods from a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Arkansas.

“We’ve been blown away by how quickly customers have taken a sci-fi technology and fully integrated it into their lives in ways that are both convenient and mundane,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo Cliffton in a recent blog post. “At this point, drone delivery is totally normal in Northwest Arkansas.”

Customers quickly adopted the service when Walmart launched the partnership with Wing for drone delivery in Frisco, one of the first area’s in the region to have the service, Woodworth said in a recent blog post. “Our regular customers order on average two times a week with our top 25 percent customers averaging three orders a week.”

A typical Sunday with a big football game averages 130 orders for items such as chicken, sour cream, avocados and limes from the Frisco store at 8555 Preston Road.

Walmart executives talked about other technology programs in the works at CES:

• AI-powered search capabilities that allow customers to use keywords such as football watch party instead of individual searches for chips, wings, and a 90-inch TV.

• Advances in Walmart’s in-home replenishment to make sure the right groceries are delivered at the right time.

• A beta social commerce platform Walmart calls “Shop with Friends” that allows customers to share outfits they create with friends and get their feedback.

• Sam’s Club unveiled technology to speed up the line to exit the store which requires receipt verification. It’s developed an application with AI and computer vision technology.

©2024 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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