In August 2018, drone startup Flytrex began delivering groceries and meals to customers in Reykjavik, Iceland, through the air. It was the first company in the world to provide this kind of service.
In April this year, Flytrex moved into the U.S. market. It started drone deliveries of food, medicine and other items in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Now, Flytrex has a new partner: Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT).
Earlier this week, the retail giant announced that it’s launching a drone service in Fayetteville, North Carolina, powered by Flytrex’s drones.
The drones can only carry up to 6.6 pounds, so they’re designed for delivering small grocery orders or certain household items.
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But they’re fast — they fly at 32 miles per hour — and since they’re airborne, they don’t need to deal with traffic like a normal delivery service does.
Rather than try to land, the drones hover in the air while lowering the package down to the customer.
And Walmart isn’t the only major U.S. company that’s trying out drones.
In August, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate its fleet of delivery drones called Prime Air.
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Walmart’s and Amazon’s drone programs are an important step for showing that air delivery is safe and reliable.
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After all, people enjoy the speed and convenience of Amazon’s two-day shipping for its Prime subscribers. And services such as Prime Air have the potential to be way better than that.
Plus, unlike food and grocery delivery services such as UberEats and Instacart, drones are fully automated. That means they could be much cheaper than paying human drivers.
As technology improves, and drones get larger, faster and smarter, there’s no reason why they can’t become a normal part of our everyday lives.
And with thousands of drones zipping around the skies, the e-commerce industry will become even bigger and more profitable than it is now.
That’s one reason why my colleague Ian King pinpoints the shift toward e-commerce as a major trend of the next decade.
Assistant Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing
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