The Kroger Co. has partnered with Drone Express, a division of TELEGRID Technologies, Inc., to begin delivering groceries via autonomous UAS to customers in Ohio.
Through the pilot program, customers will be able to have packages delivered to their smartphone’s location, not just their street address, according to a news release. That means they can order goods if they’re in a park, at the beach or in someone else’s backyard.
Kroger has designed bundled product offerings within the weight limit for drone delivery, which is about five pounds, to meet customer needs. For example, the grocer plans to offer a baby care bundle that includes wipes and formula, a child wellness bundle with over-the-counter medications and fluids, and a S’mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” TELEGRID Chief Technology Officer Beth Flippo said, according to the release. “The possibilities for customers are endless—we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner.”
After customers place their orders online, they can expect to receive goods in as little as 15 minutes.
Test flights will take place near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio, with licensed Drone Express pilots managing the flights from an on-site trailer. There also will be offsite monitoring. Deliveries are expected to begin later this spring after months of research and development.
“Kroger’s new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business—which includes pickup, delivery, and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020,” said Kroger’s Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience, according to the release. “The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions. We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions.”