Kroger, one of America’s largest grocery chains, is starting to test a drone delivery service near Dayton, OH. Starting this week, Kroger will begin testing deliveries near the company’s store in Centerville, Ohio.
“Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and another pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralphs store in California,”
The Federal Aviation Administration has allowed commercial use of drones for several years. But until recently, the rules required the drones to be within the operator’s field of vision. It was not so much for aerial photography, but it made drones useless for a retail delivery service.
It is only in the last year or so that the FAA has begun approving commercial use of drones flying beyond the operator’s field of vision.
The drones are supplied by Drone Express, a division of Telegrid Technologies. “The flights are controlled by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site surveillance,” according to Kroger’s press release.
The drone is only capable of lifting about 5 pounds (2.2 kg) of cargo, which limits the kind of goods that customers can order. Kroger says it will offer special bundles of useful products that fit within the weight limit – like a “baby care package with cloths and formula” or a “s’mores bundle with graham biscuits, marshmallows and chocolate.”
Kroger says deliveries can be made in just 15 minutes.
Interestingly, the delivery location does not have to be a postal address – it can be any set of GPS coordinates. So if you are taking a picnic in the park, you can pull out your smartphone and have a drone deliver a missing spice right next to your rug.