Kroger joins rival Walmart by launching a grocery drone delivery program later this spring. The supermarket chain has partnered with Drone Express to deliver items such as baby products, over-the-counter medications, and picnic supplies up to about five pounds to a test store in Centerville, Ohio.
A landing page for the Kroger Drone Delivery service says groceries will be flown by “certified drone pilots under FAA approval.” A press release suggests that deliveries to street addresses, parks or beaches can be made by arriving home at a customer’s smartphone location.
As part of the pilot, Kroger is designing bundled product offerings to fit the dimensions and weight limitations of the Drone Express vehicles. These include a baby care bundle with wipes and formula, another with over-the-counter medications and liquids, and a “S’mores bundle” with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Krogers says eligible orders can be delivered in “just 15 minutes”.
“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology paves the way for safe, secure and environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” said Kroger CTO Beth Flippo. “The possibilities for customers are endless – we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get a quick delivery of olive oil if they run out of cooking.”
Test flights, ahead of the consumer pilot, will begin this week from the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, with flights managed from an on-site trailer with additional monitoring at a remote location. A second pilot program is scheduled to begin this summer on a California Ralphs.
Walmart has been in the business of drone delivery since 2015. It is currently testing Flytrex drones in North Carolina for household items and groceries, as well as Zipline drones in Arkansas for health and wellness products.