Autonomous aircraft delivery service to launch in Arkansas

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Walmart and the instant logistics provider Zipline are to launch an autonomous aircraft delivery service in Pea Ridge, northwest Arkansas.

The new service will make on-demand deliveries of select health, wellness and consumable items from the region’s Walmart Neighborhood Market, the company’s grocery chain. To implement the service, the companies have created a 7.5m platform to enable aircraft take-off and landing. The platform, which is directly behind the Neighborhood Market, houses several of Zipline’s proprietary autonomous aircraft as well as the company’s flight operations crew. At full capacity, Zipline’s aircraft can service an 80km radius, nearly the size of the state of Connecticut.

The service became operational on November 18, 2021, and runs through Zipline’s app, where customers order products, select a delivery time and track the status of the aircraft. To process the order, a Walmart employee picks and packs the product and then hands the package to Zipline staff, who prepare the aircraft for launch. The aircraft departs to the customer’s home, drops the package and returns to the platform.

Tom Ward, senior vice president of last-mile delivery at Walmart US, said, “Zipline’s autonomous aircraft presents an incredible opportunity to offer customers an on-demand delivery option for the items they need now, such as a thermometer, non-prescription medication or an emergency pack of diapers. Even more, Zipline’s aircraft can help provide immediate access to needed items for both hard-to-reach and at-risk populations, such as rural communities and elderly customers. By bringing this game-changing technology to the rural community of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, we’re continuing to look for ways to make shopping with Walmart convenient and easy – for everyone.”

“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that instant logistics can have in making important, even lifesaving, products available on a moment’s notice,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “At the same time, the past two years have proven the need to bring health products closer to home, where they are more accessible. Working with Walmart, we’re able to bring this type of service to northwest Arkansas, showcasing what the future of health access looks like.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “Only two weeks after Walmart launched its autonomous truck delivery system in northwest Arkansas, the company is launching its autonomous aircraft service. Walmart and its partners such as Zipline are harnessing customer-friendly technology with such lightning speed that the future is becoming a reality far sooner than many Arkansans thought possible.”

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