Millions of Americans can now order Walmart drone deliveries

Photo courtesy Walmart

Walmart's drone delivery service is now available in the Tampa, Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas areas, the company announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Close-range drone shipping was seen as a pie-in-the-sky concept just a few years ago. Now it's reality for the millions of Americans in range of a participating store.

How it works: Shoppers near one of Walmart's planned 34 drone sites can order up to 10 lbs. of eligible goods for aerial delivery within 30 minutes.

  • "Once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered right to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package," reads a Walmart release.
  • The company is working with drone services startup DroneUp, which uses FAA-certified drone pilots to fly its retail sorties.

The big picture: "The race to bring drone delivery to U.S. households is shaping up as a battle of titans," as Joann reported back in May, with Amazon, UPS and others also working on the tech.

What we're watching: Whether problems present themselves as drone delivery gets more popular.

  • Fleets of delivery drones constantly buzzing overhead could get annoying — but maybe we'd be better off with them instead of gas-guzzling trucks.

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