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Walmart to test drone delivery of grocery, household items

The company has accelerated the expansion of its pick-up and delivery services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A shopper leaves a Walmart Superstore in Rosemead, Calif., on June 11, 2020.
A shopper leaves a Walmart Superstore in Rosemead, Calif., on June 11, 2020.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file

Walmart said on Wednesday it would run a pilot project for delivery of grocery and household products through automated drones, along with end-to-end delivery firm Flytrex, as the U.S. retailer looks to beef up its delivery business.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said the test would start on Wednesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with cloud-controlled drones picking up and dropping off select items.

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction,” Tom Ward, senior vice-president, customer products, said in a statement.

The company has accelerated the expansion of its pick-up and delivery services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as virus-wary consumers increasingly prefer having items delivered at their doorsteps.

Walmart, whose U.S. online sales doubled in the second quarter, has previously partnered with Ford and self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.