Kroger launched its first retail drone delivery on Wednesday of this week in Centerville, Ohio. The Dayton Daily News reported that the drone’s maiden voyage dropped off two packages of rice to Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton on the front lawn of the city’s offices.

Kroger announced the drone delivery program at the beginning of May, and while it had been running test flights in the Centerville area since then, Wednesday’s mayoral run was the first official delivery for the service. According to the Dayton Daily News, Kroger customers within a mile of the 1095 S. Main St. store can place an order for drone delivery and, as of now, there is no delivery fee for the service.

As we wrote last month, Kroger isn’t just looking to drop off food on your front yard. It’s aiming to get you items whenever/wherever you need it. Think: picnic supplies to a park or drinks at the beach. The drones can carry a five-pound payload and eligible orders should arrive within 15 minutes.

Kroger officially launching this program is the latest step towards drone delivery becoming a reality around the globe. So far in 2021, Flytrex has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to expand its drone delivery program (which includes Walmart grocery deliveries) in North Carolina, Manna has been conducting 50 – 100 drone deliveries a day in Ireland, and Pizza Hut has partnered with Dragontail Systems for drone deliveries in Tel Aviv, Israel.

While there are regulatory and safety hurdles that still need to be overcome, drones hold a lot of promise, especially for food-related deliveries. Drones are faster because they don’t get stuck in traffic, so hot food or coffee arrives hot. Because they are up in the air, drones don’t add to traffic congestion on the roads. And they could also potentially make deliveries more economical because one operator can coordinate more drone deliveries per hour.

Kroger’s drone delivery will probably be more of a novel curiosity for customers at first. But if it can fulfill the promise of faster, more convenient food, we’ll be writing a lot more about drone delivery launches across the U.S. throughout this year.

Written By: Chris Albrecht

June 11, 2021


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