Walmart Launches “Drone Delivery” As Last-Mile Delivery War Heats Up

12-09-20 07:08:00,

Walmart has partnered with Flytrex, an end-to-end drone delivery company, to launch an on-demand drone delivery service at one of it Supercenters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, this week. The unveiling of this new rapid last-mile delivery service comes a little more than one week after the company officially unveiled Walmart+, an alternative to Amazon Prime.

The new service, launched on Wednesday, will allow drones to deliver select products, such as groceries and essential items, Senior Vice President for Consumer Product Tom Ward wrote in a blog post on Walmart.com. 

In an era of a virus pandemic, remote-working, and eruption of e-commerce shopping, last-mile deliver wars between Walmart and Amazon appear to be developing. In August, we noted Amazon was cleared by the FAA to test drone deliveries. 

Flytrex’s automated drones can fly hundreds of feet in the air at 32 mph, with a distance of about 6.2 miles. Each drone has a maximum  cargo load capacity of about 6.6 pounds, allowing overweight Americans to order corndogs and Twinkies on demand. 

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Ward said in the post. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”

A demo video was published on Walmart’s blog, showing the drone loaded with a customer’s order, then flying across a suburban neighhood, delivering the package to the customer’s front yard. Flytrex received FAA approval last year to deliver goods in North Carolina. 

Walmart is joining an elite club of companies that are exploring drone programs for last-mile delivery. Those companies are Amazon, CVS, UPS, and Wing, an Alphabet Inc subsidiary.

“At the end of the day, it’s learnings from pilots such as this that will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale and, true to the vision of our founder, take Walmart beyond where we’ve been,” Ward said in the blog post.

In a contactless environment,

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“It’s 99% Autonomous” – Delivery Robots Slated To Launch In Texas To Limit Virus Spread

12-05-20 07:35:00,

In a post-corona world, one Texas town could see robot delivery vehicles on city streets, ushering fast-food, supplies, and groceries back and forth from supermarkets and shops to residential housing complexes and or homes.

The drive for a contactless society has been put into hyperdrive because of the virus pandemic. Even before the outbreak, there was a big push to integrate automation and artificial intelligence into the economy. 

In one recent example, we noted how slaughterhouse robots are likely to replace humans at some meat processing facilities to address labor shortages due to virus outbreaks.

According to Community Impact Newspaper, which serves Austin, Texas, Starship Technologies, a company developing small self-driving robotic delivery vehicles, told Frisco City Council’s work session on Tuesday (May 5) that it will soon go into contract with several local shops to offer contactless delivery via the robots.

“We’ve identified the intersection around Main and Teel [streets] as probably where we’re going to start,” Starship Director of Sales Robert Buehler said.

“Vendors that have expressed interest include Fuzzy’s Tacos, Kpop Burger, Hareli Fresh Market, Kroger, Chicken Express [and] Hurts Donut—those sorts of restaurants and grocers in that area,” Buehler said. 

We have noted in the past, Starship was mainly focused on autonomous delivery at universities across the country, but it seems the company has shifted focus since schools are shutdown. 

Buehler said the service is already offered at The University of Texas at Dallas, noting that, “With the pandemic, a lot of campuses have emptied out of students. So we have accelerated our long-term plans, which is to offer neighborhood deliveries.”

He said the robots are a contactless delivery system that could help limit the spread of the virus by limiting interaction with a person and delivery driver.  

“Every person that can stay at home and order delivery via this robot is staying out of the store, staying out of the restaurant, and preventing unnecessary interactions with those frontline workers,” Buehler said.

He said the robots operate on sidewalks but can operate on city streets if need be.

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Delivery Robots Set To Invade College Campuses This Fall

22-08-19 08:06:00,

Starship Technologies, an autonomous delivery company, focused on last-mile delivery services, announced Tuesday via a company press release, that it will launch delivery robots on 100 university campuses across the US in the next 24 months.

The announcement said the delivery robots have already arrived at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, in preparation for the fall semester. Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, will receive robots on Sept. 9 and an additional 98 university campuses by late 2H21.

“An entire generation of university students are growing up in a world where they expect to receive a delivery from a robot after a few taps on their smartphone. The reception to our service both on campuses and in neighborhoods has been phenomenal. Our customers appreciate how we make their lives easier and give them back the gift of time,” said Lex Bayer, CEO of Starship.

In the coming weeks, students at the University of Pittsburgh will be able to order their favorite food and drinks from Einstein Bros. Bagels and Common Grounds via delivery robots to any set location they want, in the proximity of the campus. Students, according to the release, can use their meal plan points to pay for food and delivery charges.

Not too long ago, Starship started a pilot delivery program at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) and Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ). Since the tests, students at both campuses have fallen in love with the robots. The company said they had to increase robots in both schools to stay with demand.

When the expansion to all 100 campuses by 2H21 is completed, the company expects to have the delivery service readily available to more than one million students.

The Starship app is a revolutionary way of last-mile delivery; students must first download the app on iOS and Android before they can place an order.

Once their meal plan, credit card, or their parents’ credit card is connected to the account, students can select their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin on a map of where they want the robot to drop off the goods. As per the release, delivery charges could cost around $1.99,

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