Kroger Tests Drone For Delivering Supermarket Goods To Customers

Kroger drone delivery
Photo courtesy of Kroger

Kroger is launching a test of its new drone delivery program this week, the Cincinnati-based supermarket company announced in a Monday (May 3) press release.

Kroger, the largest grocery retailer in the U.S., said the service will include “bundled product offerings” that will meet current weight limits, about five pounds. This could include a s’mores bundle that contains graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Or perhaps a child wellness bundle with over-the-counter medications and fluids.

“Kroger’s new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business — which includes pickup, delivery, and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020,” said Kroger Group Vice President of Product Experience Jody Kalmbach. “We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions.”

The company will partner on the test flights with Drone Express, a division of Telegrid Technologies. Deliveries can be made right to the location of a customer’s cellphone.

“Our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” said Telegrid Chief Technology Officer Beth Flippo. “The possibilities for customers are endless — we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner.”

The release said the Drone Express would start off by making test flights near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio. The flights will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from a trailer and include “additional off-site monitoring.”

A second test program is readying for takeoff this summer at a Ralphs store in California.

The Ohio test program “is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express,” said Ethan Grob, Kroger’s director of last mile strategy and product. “We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring.”

Interest in deliveries made by autonomous robots is picking up. For example, last month Domino’s Pizza said it was partnering with Nuro to test out robotic pizza-delivery. Nuro said it has the first such on-road vehicle to obtain regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.