US-based retail giant Walmart launched a pilot programme to deliver Covid-19 tests to homes located within around 1.6 km of their store in North Las Vegas. The drones will deliver the test kits to people’s front yards, driveways or nearest sidewalks free of cost and could take as little as five minutes, CNN reported.
Once they place an order, customers will receive a text message when the test kit is on its way. The drone will drop the package in a safe location, depending on where there are cars and trees.
After the customer administers the test, the sample can then be sent via courier service FedEx to a diagnostic lab, which will announce the results digitally within around two days, CNN reported.
“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,” Tom Ward, Walmart’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Products wrote in a blog post.
The retail company partnered up with Quest Diagnostics and drone service provider DroneUp to carry out both the recent test in Las Vegas as well as a trial scheduled to take place in Cheektowaga, New York in October. Walmart does not have any immediate plans to expand the service to other parts of the country, Ward said in his blog post.
The Walmart executive also clarified that deliveries would only be made “while supplies last” between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm to single-family homes. Deliveries may be cancelled if a power line or tree obstructs the drone, CNN reported.
“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Ward wrote in a separate blog post. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”
Earlier this month, Walmart announced it had collaborated with Quest Diagnostics to conduct Covid-19 tests in more than 500 of their drive-thru pharmacies across the country.