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Walmart begins trialing drone deliveries for at-home Covid-19 tests

September 22, 2020

By Shahibul Islam

The Walmart drones just keep coming. 

Over the past few weeks, Walmart has announced drone delivery trials for health and wellness products, as well as groceries with Flytrex and Zipline. Now, the company has started delivering COVID-19 self-collection kits by drone, too. 

Starting Tuesday, customers in the North Las Vegas area will be able to order and receive kits dropped off by DroneUp-powered drones. Then, next month as the trial service continues, those drones will also start delivering kits to customers in Cheektowaga, New York (near Buffalo). According to Walmart, those two locations were selected based on housing “density and location of households in close proximity to a Walmart store.

DroneUp, a Virginia-based drone company that controls the flights, will bring the kits to single-family homes (so no apartment landings) within a 1-mile radius of the Walmart Supercenters participating in this trial program. The kits will land in front of the house or in the backyard depending on whether or not trees and cars are blocking the way. 

Here’s how it works: After ordering the kit through Walmart’s online store or app, it’s prepped at the Walmart pharmacy, put into a bag that’s attached to the drone with what looks like a long rope, and then flown to its delivery spot from the Walmart parking lot. Only customers within the designated area who qualify for drone delivery can get the free kits.

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That’s right, there are no costs for customers. The delivery and nasal swab test are free during the trial program. Once the kit has landed and customers remove it from the bag, they will then need to swab their nose and send the sample back to Quest Diagnostics for testing using a prepaid shipping label included in the kit. Unfortunately, the drone isn’t available to ship the kit back for testing. Oh well.

The free drone deliveries are only available in these two cities for now, but Walmart hinted at growing the drone delivery program to expand COVID-19 testing. 

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By Shahibul Islam

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