Walmart Expands Drone Delivery Service But Wyoming Still Not On List

Although there are still technical challenges to drone-delivery like when a pilot lost control of an Amazon drone earlier this year and it crashed, causing a fire. Walmart is expanding its drone delivery into 34 new markets by the end of the year. Wyoming hasn't made the list yet.

December 26, 20224 min read

Walmart farmington ar droneup delivery hub 12 22 22

Walmart expanded its drone delivery service into “select markets” in Texas, Arizona and Florida last week. 

When asked if Wyoming stores would ever receive the service, the nation’s largest retailer didn’t respond.

According to a statement, the company planned to offer the service at 34 sites in six states by the end of the year, which would have included Utah and Virginia, as well as Arkansas, where the service was first offered. 

The company hasn’t yet announced drone delivery for Utah or Virginia, but it’s continuing to rapidly expand the program.

Announcements about the service say Walmart wants to expand its drone infrastructure to deliver 1 million packages per year. 

So, there may be hope for Wyoming drone deliveries in the future. 

Drones that deliver for Walmart can carry packages weighing up to 10 pounds. (Photo Courtesy DroneUp)

Hamburger Helper

In 2020, Walmart partnered with commercial drone company DroneUp for trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 test kits. After the trials delivered hundreds of kits from Walmart stores in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Cheektowaga, New York, the company branched into general deliveries in May at Arkansas locations, including Walmart’s Supercenter in Bentonville. 

“While Walmart initially thought customers would use the service for emergency items, we’re finding they use it for its sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal,” DroneUp says in a press release on its delivery partnership. “The top-selling item at one of our current hubs is Hamburger Helper.”

The way the service works is customers within a mile of a participating store select their items from the DroneUp Delivery website between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time. For a fee of $3.99, the drones can deliver more than 10,000 eligible items weighing up to 10 pounds. This includes fragile items like eggs. It takes about 30 minutes to arrive at the customer’s home. 

FAA Regulations

To use drones in any commercial activity, the pilot is required to have an FAA license. 

Pilots have to follow certain guidelines, which includes operating the drone within line of sight of the pilot. Pilots can receive waivers to deviate from FAA regulations for operating drones, but these are not always easy to obtain. 

According to ReedSmith, a global law firm, DroneUp got around the waiver requirements by constructing towers in participating store parking lots that allow pilots to see for up to 1.5 miles. 

DroneUp founder Tom Walker told ReedSmith the company hopes to obtain a line-of-sight waiver, which will allow deliveries up to 3 miles from the store. 

Patrick Santucci, director of marketing and communications for DroneUp, told Cowboy State Daily the company’s pilots are still using line-of-sight operations. 

DroneUp uses towers in Walmart parking lots that can spot up to 1.5 miles from a store. (Photo Courtesy DroneUp)

Other Drone Services

Walmart and DroneUp appear to be succeeding where Amazon stumbled. 

In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the company would launch a drone delivery service within the next five years. It received widespread media buzz. 

A Bloomberg investigation earlier this year revealed the Prime Air program faced technical challenges, high turnover and safety issues. In one incident, a drone crashed when multiple safety features failed and the pilot lost control of the aircraft. 

The crash also started a brush fire. 

In June, Amazon announced it would begin Prime Air deliveries in Lockeford, California. 

Wing is another drone delivery service, but rather than rotary drones, the company makes deliveries with unmanned fixed-wing aircraft that launch vertically like the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft. 

Unlike the Osprey, the wings don’t tilt to bring the propellers forward. Wing’s drones have propellers on its top and wings. 

The company partnered with DoorDash and KFC in Australia. It’s working with Walgreens to begin a U.S. delivery service. 

UPS Flight Forward Inc., a subsidiary of United Parcel Service, is another drone delivery service in development. 

Like Wing, it uses fixed-wing aircraft. The company is focusing on transporting medical samples. 

In 2019, it became the first company to receive an FAA certification that permits operations of a remote-controlled unmanned airline. 

Share this article