COVID-19 test kits may soon start dropping from the sky onto driveways, backyards and sidewalks in Las Vegas as Walmart takes development of its drone-delivery program to the next level.
Walmart on Tuesday (Sept. 22) announced it has begun testing the use of drones to deliver COVID-19 test kits in North Las Vegas, with plans to expand the pilot program to Cheektowaga, N.Y., in early October.
Walmart is teaming up on the effort with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, Tom Ward, senior vice president for customer product, wrote in an announcement posted on the retail giant’s website.
One aim, according to Walmart, is to test out a contactless way to get COVID-19 self-collection test kits to patients at a time when social distancing is crucial to checking the spread of the pandemic.
“There’s a lot we can learn from our drone delivery pilots to help determine what roles drones can play in pandemic response, health care delivery and retail,” Ward wrote. “We hope drone delivery of self-collection kits will shape contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale and continue to bolster the innovative ways Walmart plans to use drone delivery in the future.”
Still, just not anyone can sign up to take part in Walmart’s pilot drone delivery program.
Patients hoping to get their COVID-19 test kits delivered by drone must live in a single-family home within a one-mile radius of designated Walmart supercenters in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga.
The drones will drop the coronavirus test kits in driveways, front sidewalks and backyards, with the exact location depending on where cars are parked or trees are located.
Walmart’s experiment with delivering COVID-19 test kits by drone comes on the heels of a similar pilot program launched by the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer earlier this month.
Teaming up with Flytrex, Walmart on Sept. 9 started using drones to deliver some grocery and other items to customers in Fayetteville, N.C.