Shortly after receiving final FAA approval for drone deliveries, Amazon already has a rival. Walmart announced that it will start a pilot program with drone company Flytrex to deliver groceries and other household essentials from its stores in Fayetteville, NC. Flytrex had previously received FAA approval for food deliveries in North Carolina.
The pilot program will mostly be used to gather information for a future service, so the Fayetteville skies won’t be filled with drones just yet. "The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will help us gain valuable insight into the customer and associate experience — from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery," said Walmart senior VP Tom Ward.
The Flytrex drones used by Walmart can carry 6.6 pounds at a height 380 feet for a distance of 3.5 miles (and back) at up to 32 mph. They use a wire release mechanism to lower fastened delivery boxes from eighty feet, ensuring “a quiet and secure delivery,” Flytrex wrote on its website.
Walmart’s drones will fly under the FAA’s part 107 rules that require the drone remain in line of sight and use a remote pilot. The FAA has already issued more advanced Part 135 air carrier certificates to Amazon and Google’s Wing Aviation, that allows for drone deliveries beyond visual line of sight. However, Flytrex recently received approval for a parachute safety system that could pave the way for permission to fly over populated areas.