Walmart is experimenting with the future behind its shop in Pea Ridge, Ark. A fleet of five drones will take off and land in the back parking lot of that location, ferrying prescription medications, vitamins, and COVID-19 testing to consumers up to 50 miles distant.
A drone pilot is performing a flying check on one of the aircraft, which has an 11-foot wingspan but looks like an aeroplane. The drone is expected to hover, open a door in its fuselage, and drop a blue box connected to a parachute so it can glide gently to the ground when it arrives at the intended customer’s residence.
Except for tiny tests, U.S. airspace legislation has kept most drones grounded eight years after Jeff Bezos surprised the world by claiming that Amazon buyers would ultimately get their products delivered by drone in just 30 minutes after ordering. Thousands of flights have been completed by Zipline, Google parent Alphabet, UPS, and Amazon. Drone businesses claim that the technology is ready to use. And, since the start of the COVID pandemic, demand for contactless delivery, especially medical supplies, has only grown. Nonetheless, the wait continues.