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New Walmart partnership expands drone delivery

walziapWalmart recently announced that it is exploring how drones can deliver items in a way that’s convenient, safe and fast. In its latest initiative, the company is teaming up with Zipline to launch a first-of-its-kind drone delivery operation in the U.S. The new service will make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products with the potential to expand to general merchandise.

Trial deliveries will take place near Walmart’s headquarters here in northwest Arkansas using Zipline’s proprietary technology.

"Customers today are busier than ever, which is why every day we’re finding new ways to make their lives easier," said Tom Ward, Walmart's senior vice president of customer product. "At the same time, our history of innovation, a foundation laid by our founder Sam Walton, has us committed to learning how new technology can better serve customers."

Zipline will operate from a Walmart store and can service a 50-mile radius, which is about the size of the state of Connecticut. And, not only does the launch and release system allow for quick on-demand delivery in under an hour, but it also eliminates carbon emissions, which lines up with the company's sustainability goals. The operation will likely begin early next year, and, if successful, Walmart will look to expand.

Zipline, which operates one of the world’s largest drone delivery networks, began operating in late 2016 in Rwanda primarily focusing on the on-demand delivery of medical supplies. To date, it has 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.

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