The kits will be dropped off at customer’s doorsteps by automated drones.
The retailer has partnered with Quest Diagnostics and drone services provider DroneUp, to test-deliver collection kits in El Paso, Texas.
Earlier this year, Walmart piloted drone delivery of grocery and household products in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as it accelerated the expansion of its pickup and delivery services with virus-wary consumers preferring home delivery.
Drones will now deliver COVID-19 home self-collection kits from Walmart amid a surge in cases in El Paso, Texas
A test flight is flown by a DroneUp pilot in preparation for drone delivery of COVID-19 home self collection kits from Walmart
A DroneUp pilot prepares a drone for a test flight. Residents who live within 1.5 miles of the Walmart Supercenter in East El Paso are eligible for the free kits as part of a drone delivery pilot program
The drones launched on Tuesday will drop the COVID-19 self-collection kits on driveways, front sidewalks or backyards of homes within a one-and-a-half-mile radius of designated Walmart stores.
The COVID-19 at-home self-collection kits will be delivered to single-family homes at this time.
Customers can then self-administer the nasal swab and send back samples to Quest Diagnostics for testing – although that would be by regular mail rather than drone.
‘We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone. That still feels like a bit of science fiction,’ Tom Ward, senior vice-president, customer products, said in a statement.
‘Walmart has been serving the El Paso community throughout the pandemic with drive-thru testing sites and extended testing hours, and we wanted to provide another way to access testing that provides convenience and leverages technology while learning how drones could impact the delivery of healthcare in the future,’ said Amanda Jenkins, Vice President of Operation Support and Implementation, Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness.
The drones launched on Tuesday will drop the COVID-19 self-collection kits on driveways, front sidewalks or backyards of homes within a one-and-a-half-mile radius of designated Walmart stores
The COVID-19 at-home self-collection kits will be delivered to single-family homes at this time
Walmart is also looking to the future – reports estimate there will be 2.2 million drones making deliveries by 2025
The pilot program will also allow Walmart to observe how the technology works and customer’s experience with receiving goods by air
‘We are grateful to our Quest and DroneUp partners, and our pharmacists and associates, for their support in launching the pilot as we continue to work together during the pandemic.’
To be eligible for drone delivery, patients must live within the 1.5-mile radius of the El Paso Walmart store and request a drone delivery appointment through www.GetDroneTest.com.
There is no delivery cost for patients who qualify to receive an at-home self-collection kit through the pilot program.
The kit includes a device for a nasal swab collection. The specimen is then forwarded to a Quest Diagnostics laboratory for testing.
‘Quest Diagnostics is proud to partner with Walmart and DroneUp on this innovative pilot program to examine how drones could deliver health care to patients who are unable to leave their home, or live in remote locations,’ said Dan Haemmerle, General Manager of Extended Care at Quest Diagnostics. ‘We will take the learnings from this pilot and enhance the ways we deliver health care services to the patients we serve.’
Walmart, whose U.S. online sales doubled in the second quarter, has previously partnered with Ford Motor Co and self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.
Amazon also launched a pilot program using unmanned aerial vehicles to transport groceries and household essentials in a North Carolina city earlier this year
Source: Daily Mail