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Walmart is using drones to provide COVID-19 testing in Las Vegas

Customers will receive a message from DroneUp when the Quest Diagnostics (DGX) the test is coming. And depending on where there are cars and trees, the kits will land on people’s driveways, front sidewalks, or yard. Delivery, which can take a minimum of five minutes, will be free.

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

“We hope drone delivery of self-collection kits will change contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale and continue to strengthen the innovative ways Walmart plans to use drone delivery in the future,”

; said Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of consumer products. a blog post.

For now, the vast majority of Americans will not have access to Covid-19 test drone deliveries. Walmart (WMT) plans to expand drone testing in Cheektowaga, New York – just outside of Buffalo – in early October, but no other sites have been announced.

And there are limitations to the program. Drone deliveries are only available “while supplies last” between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm and for single family homes. And deliveries can be impeded by “physical barriers, power lines, trees, cars, or unforeseen weather conditions.”

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

To minimize failed deliveries, Quest Diagnostics said delivery areas will be “checked in real time” in advance.

Last week, Quest and Walmart announced that Covid-19 tests can now be conducted in more than 500 Walmart drive-thru pharmacies in the United States.

The Covid-19 drone test program is only part of Walmart’s drone experiments.

Earlier this month, Walmart launched a drone pilot program with Flytrex to deliver household items 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.
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“We know it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Walmart executive Ward wrote in a separate blog post. “It still sounds a bit like science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”

Walmart’s rival Amazon (AMZN) it is also making progress in drone deliveries, albeit at a slower speed than hoped for. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first announced in late 2013 that he plans to use drones to make deliveries in 30 minutes or less.
Yet progress has been slow due to drone technology and regulations we are just not ready for widespread use, at least not yet. Specifically, the FAA is still working on ways to remotely identify drones, a crucial safety step.
In late 2016, Amazon came up with kicked off a trial of drone delivery to Britain. And last month, Amazon received a crucial certificate from the FAA that takes the e-commerce giant one step closer to making drone deliveries to 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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