Walmart Inc said on Wednesday it would run a pilot project for delivery of grocery and household products through automated drones, along with end-to-end delivery firm Flytrex, as the U.S. retailer looks to beef up its delivery business.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said the test started on Wednesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with cloud-controlled drones picking up and dropping off select items.
“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction,” Tom Ward, senior vice-president, customer products, said in a statement.
The company has accelerated the expansion of its pick-up and delivery services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as virus-wary consumers increasingly prefer having items delivered at their doorsteps.
Walmart, whose U.S. online sales doubled in the second quarter, has previously partnered with Ford Motor Co and self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.