Walmart is partnering with drone delivery provider Zipline to make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products in the United States in early 2021. Zipline is known for medical drone operations in Africa.
Walmart also has a pilot project to delivery grocery and household products with automated drones from Flytrex. This is in response to Amazon obtaining FAA approval to test its own Prime Air delivery drones.
- Walmart and Zipline team up to bring their own drone delivery to the U.S. (Sept 14, 2020, CNBC TV)
- Walmart drone deliveries in Fayetteville (Sept 9, 2020, CBS 17)
This post is based on the CNBC article, Amazon and Walmart’s emerging delivery drone battle escalates with Zipline deal, by Riley de Leon, September 14, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Flystock/Shutterstock
1. What additional operations processes will need to be designed to support drone delivery for most companies in the future?
Guidance: Students should readily note what can go wrong with a drone delivery. What happens if a drone malfunctions along the route? What happens if someone interferes with the drone’s flight path? How would the company retrieve a drone and the package from a tree? What are the safety requirements to operate a drone? What are the training requirements for operators? How will a fleet of drones be maintained? What are the legal liability issues that can be foreseen? Drone technology is rapidly evolving. Discussion can focus on the variety of issues that will need to be considered before a company can implement drone technology fully.
2. How would you design a pilot project for Zipline implementation at Walmart?
Guidance: Review the concept of a pilot project. Ask the students to develop a checklist of items that will need to be explored as part of this pilot study. Students should be able to outline last mile delivery features to test, privacy concerns that are likely to arise, and the operations and maintenance aspects of drone technology that the distribution function will likely be responsible for.