May 24 (UPI) — Retail giant Walmart on Tuesday announced the expansion of its DroneUP delivery network to 34 sites in states including Utah by the end of the year.
The service is expected to reach 4 million U.S. households in Utah, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas and Virginia, the company said in a statement. Exact locations within each state have not yet been announced.
“This provides us the ability to deliver over 1 million packages by drone in a year,” Walmart said in a blog post, adding that the drones will operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
They will enable customers “to order from tens of thousands of eligible items, such as Tylenol, diapers and hot dog buns, for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes,” a company statement says.
“For a delivery fee of $3.99, customers can order items totaling up to 10 pounds, so simply put, if it fits safely, it flies.”
The Walmart stores that participate in the service will house a DroneUp delivery hub that includes “a team of certified pilots, operating within FAA guidelines, that safely manage flight operations for deliveries,” said David Guggina, the company’s senior vice president of innovation and automation.
Once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered right to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package.
The company launched its drone service in November near its corporate headquarters in Arkansas.
In 2020, Walmart announced a partnership with three companies, including DroneUp, to develop drones that are “convenient, safe and fast.”
Walmart is one of multiple companies that have implemented drone deliveries. Samsung Electronics in 2021 launched its drone service in Ireland. And, in 2020, Amazon received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to start commercial drone deliveries. But Amazon has had difficulty getting its drone service off the ground.
According to Business Insider, the company has experienced at least eight drone crashes during testing in 2021 and 2022 and has attempted to stop federal investigators from investigating them.
Regulations of commercial drone flights by the FAA began in the summer of 2016.