Walmart uses drones to conduct COVID-19 tests in Vegas

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Customers will receive an SMS from DroneUp when the Quest diagnostics (DGX) the test is in progress. And depending on where there are cars and trees, the kits will land on driveways, front sidewalks, or people’s backyards. Delivery, which can take as little as five minutes, will be free.

Samples can then be sent via FedEx to a Quest lab, which will send the results digitally.

“We hope that the drone delivery of self-collection kits will shape contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale and continue to strengthen the innovative ways Walmart plans to use drone delivery in the future,” he said. said Tom Ward, senior vice president of consumer products at Walmart in a blog post.For now, the vast majority of Americans will not have access to drone deliveries of Covid-19 tests. Walmart (WMT) plans to expand the drone trial to Cheektowaga, New York – just outside of Buffalo – in early October, but no further locations have been announced.

And there are limits to the program. Drone deliveries are only available “while stocks last”, between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm and to individual homes. And deliveries can be prevented by “unforeseen physical barriers, power lines, trees, cars or weather conditions.”

In other words, if you need a Covid-19 test on a rainy day, it probably won’t come by drone.

To minimize delivery failures, Quest Diagnostics said delivery areas would be “inspected in real time” beforehand.

Last week, Quest and Walmart announced that Covid-19 testing can now be performed at more than 500 Walmart drive-through pharmacies in the United States.

The Covid-19 drone testing program is only part of Walmart’s experiments with drones.

Earlier this month, Walmart launched a drone pilot program with Flytrex to deliver housewares and groceries to customers in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And next year, Walmart plans to launch a separate drone program with Zipline to deliver health and wellness programs to customers near the retail giant’s headquarters in northwest Arkansas.

“We know it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered by drone,” Ward, the Walmart executive, wrote in another blog post. “It still sounds like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.

Walmart Rivale Amazone (AMZN) is also making progress on drone deliveries, but at a slower rate than some had hoped. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first announced in late 2013 his intention to use drones to make deliveries in 30 minutes or less.

Still, progress has been slow as drone technology and regulation are just not ready for widespread use – at least not yet. Specifically, the FAA is still working on ways to remotely identify drones, a critical step for safety.

At the end of 2016, Amazon made launched a drone delivery trial in Britain. And last month, Amazon received a crucial FAA certificate that brings the e-commerce giant one step closer to achieving drone delivery in the United States.

UPS (UPS) and Wing, a division of the owner of Google Alphabet (GOOGL), also received FAA certificates in 2019 for drone delivery.

Matt McFarland of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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