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Walmart has invested in drone delivery company DroneUp as part of its efforts to find new ways to approach last-mile delivery issues, saying that "conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach. DroneUp’s expertise, combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation, puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit."

John Furner, CEO-president of Walmart U.S., noted yesterday that "last year, we partnered with DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, to launch trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. The trial demonstrated we could offer customers delivery in minutes versus hours. Now, after safely completing hundreds of drone deliveries from Walmart stores, we’re making an investment in DroneUp to continue our work toward developing a scalable last-mile delivery solution.

"DroneUp operates an on-demand drone delivery network that matches their database of more than 10,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified pilots to missions nationwide. Since partnering with DroneUp last year, we’ve valued their technological expertise, world-class operations and experienced management team – and their commitment to helping the FAA ensure the highest levels of safety with every delivery … Walmart already has a significant part of the infrastructure in place – 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most-purchased items, located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. This makes us uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries."

Furner noted that Walmart's delivery innovations are not just taking place in the sky:  "In April, we announced a similar investment in Cruise, an all-electric autonomous vehicle company. Through these commitments, we’re learning how these technologies can get customers the items they need."

KC's View:

When Jeff Bezos gave that 60 Minutes interview a number of years ago in which he revealed Amazon's interest in drone technology, it was assumed that Walmart probably would never even consider such an investment, or at the very least would be late to the party.  The joke was that while Amazon was investing in drones, Walmart would be investing in anti-aircraft weapons.

This announcement demonstrates exactly how far the technology has come, how fast it has gotten there … and, I think, the degree to which Walmart has evolved in just a few years.