Food delivery

Walmart, Amazon, and the drone delivery wars

A sea of audience members in a dark auditorium take photos of a slide depicting a drone in the sky
Amazon debuted a new drone at its re:MARS conference. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Drone delivery — tied up in regulatory debates and largely nonexistent beyond a few, isolated pilots — hasn't boomed in the U.S. yet, but Amazon and Walmart are placing big bets on unmanned vehicles.

The big picture: The hooplah has intensified to the point where a number of upstarts are popping up to offer drone-delivery-in-a-box to the retailers who can't afford to invest themselves. The two retail rivals are betting that drone delivery — currently estimated to be worth $30 billion — will take an increasingly large share of the $1.5 trillion logistics business.

Expert Voices

Automakers and retailers explore bots and lockers to automate delivery

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In an eye-catching video, Ford and Agility Robotics recently touted their partnership and vision for autonomous delivery, illustrating the need for a system that can navigate from a parked vehicle up a set of stairs to reach the front door, for example.

The big picture: Autonomous vehicles are expected to decrease delivery costs by eventually removing drivers from the equation entirely, but the logistics of last meter delivery in particular remain intractable.