Mar 21, 2024 - News

What it's like ordering a Walmart drone

A gif of a drone delivery taking off

Behind the scenes as a drone delivery is loaded for transit. Video: Gregory Castillo/Axios

Dallas-Fort Worth is emerging as the drone delivery capital of America, thanks largely to Walmart.

Why it matters: Walmart plans to make the service widely available to 1.8 million Dallas-area residents by the end of 2024, reports Axios' Joann Muller.

  • The company announced in January it will offer drone deliveries across 30 municipalities in North Texas, saying it's the first time a U.S. retailer has offered drone delivery to this many households in a single market.

State of play: Axios recently tried two of Walmart's partner services, Wing and DroneUp, to see what drone delivery is like.

  • Both companies operate from a cordoned-off area of the parking lots at Walmart stores in Frisco and Garland.

Yes, but: We don't live within Walmart's current drone delivery zones, so we had to settle for free delivery at nearby demo locations.

What happened: We used a smartphone to place separate orders on Wing's Walmart delivery app.

  • A Wing employee goes into the store to grab the items from the shelves and pay at self-checkout.
  • Then, on a folding table near the exit, the items are put into cardboard containers, weighed and labeled.

How it works: When an order is placed, Wing's flight navigation system assigns a drone and generates a flight plan to the delivery spot, taking into account geography, weather and air traffic.

  • The assigned drone's propellers start automatically, and the drone rises about 25 feet, hovering while the employee, wearing a hard hat, attaches the package to a tether.
  • The drone recoils the tether, secures the package to the belly of the aircraft, then rises to a cruising altitude of up to 400 feet before departing.

The bottom line: When the drone arrives at its destination, it hovers at about 25 feet, then lowers the tethered package gently to the ground.

  • The clip releases automatically, the tether recoils, and the drone ascends and flies away.

Go deeper: Axios Texas social media host Greg Castillo orders a Dr Pepper

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