Walmart uses drones to deliver COVID-19 tests

In the market for a COVID test and don’t want to leave your North Las Vegas home? You’re in luck. Walmart has your back. 

The retail giant has partnered with Quest Diagnostics and drone services provider DroneUp to deliver self-administered COVID-19 tests to customers by drone. 

Announced on Sept. 22, the pilot program is limited to two locations: North Las Vegas, available now, and Cheektowaga, New York starting in early October. Financial details of the pilot have not yet been made available to the public. 

Deliveries are limited to single-family residences within a one-mile radius of Walmart Supercenters in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga. 

Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of consumer products, hopes “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.” 

Kits land on driveways, front sidewalks, or backyards depending on numerous factors, including the location of parked cars. Tests are self-administered by customers with nasal swabs to be mailed to Quest Diagnostics with pre-paid shipping labels included. Results should be expected within two days. 

In early September, Walmart piloted drone delivery of grocery items in Fayetteville, North Carolina while continuing to expand pickup and delivery services. 

COVID-19 test collection kits by drone are the latest development in drone delivery for the retail giant. Past innovations include delivery of grocery and household items along with products for health and wellness. 

This also pits the retail giant against industry competitors, such as CVS and Walgreens, with the latter having experimented with drone delivery for healthcare products, such as prescriptions. 

“There’s a lot we can learn from our drone delivery pilots to help determine what roles drones can play in pandemic response, health care delivery, and retail,” said Ward. “Our hope is the drone delivery COVID-19 self-collection kit launch 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.” 

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