Walmart, the US retail giant has signed up a deal with Zipline, a US-drone startup popularly known for delivering medical supplies in Africa for its US retail deliveries.
The firm had earlier announced it would be exploring how drones can deliver items in a way that’s convenient, safe and fast. The deal with Zipline sees it launch a first-of-its-kind drone delivery operation in the U.S. beating competitor Amazon which recently received approval to use drone delivery services.
The new service will make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products with the potential to expand to general merchandise.
According to Tom Ward, Senior Vice President, Customer Product, Walmart, “Trial deliveries will take place near Walmart’s headquarters in Northwest Arkansas. Zipline will operate from a Walmart store and can service a 50-mile radius, which is about the size of the state of Connecticut. The operation will likely begin early next year, and, if successful, we’ll look to expand.”
Zipline, which operates the world’s largest drone delivery network, began operating in late 2016 in Rwanda primarily focusing on the on-demand delivery of medical supplies. To date, they’ve safely delivered more than 200,000 critical medical products to thousands of health facilities serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries. This uniquely positions them for national-scale operations across the United States.
The Novant Health partnership was Zipline’s first American launch for the US-based firm that has been in operation for several years in Africa.