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Groceries from the sky

A bag full of groceries quickly delivered by a drone Image credit: Walmart

Next week, on Wednesday Sept 16th, Walmart will start delivering groceries, flying actually, to people in North Carolina living within a 6 miles radius from their store and having a backyard garden to receive the groceries from the sky.

The service will make use of drones provided by Flytrex, an Israeli company specialising in drone delivery.

Each drone can deliver a load up to 6.5 pounds (that is about 3kg), which is probably not enough if you thing about grocery shopping for the week, but it can turn handy if you run out of salad and have your guest for the evening knocking at the door. The convenience of having grocery a click away (a smartphone with an app is all you need)

Walmart is not planning to make money for the moment but is eager to initiate this pilot to understand the potential market before deciding how to expand it and turn it into a profitable one.  They expect that quite a bit of time will pass before scaling up to millions of delivery.

Personally, I think that drone delivery will pick up in some areas, like in many sub-urban locations in the US. Much trickier is to imagine drone delivery in a urban environment, both for restriction to flying and for landing spots convenient for the drone and for the customer.

For sure, we are going to see quite some changes in this decade on the logistic value chain.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.