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Kroger to launch drone delivery pilot program this spring



(credit: Kroger Co.)

America’s largest grocery retailer partnered with Drone Express, a division of TELEGRID Technologies, Inc., to blaze a trail transforming e-commerce with the introduction of a drone delivery pilot program taking flight this spring in the Midwest.

Drone deliveries could revolutionize the way consumers shop as Drone Express technology allows deliveries to not only a specified address but also to the location of a customer’s smartphone.  This means Kroger customers would be able to order delivery of items up to five pounds right to the beach, barbeque, or ballgame rather than make a trip to the store.

(credit: Kroger Co.)

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Kroger is designing bundled product offerings ideal for meeting customer needs within the current weight limits for drone delivery, which is about five pounds. As an illustration, Kroger will offer a baby care bundle with 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. Using, customers can place orders and have eligible orders delivered within as little as 15 minutes.

“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” said Beth Flippo, Chief Technology Officer, TELEGRID. “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.”

The magic happens in this unassuming Drone Express trailer (credit: Kroger Co.)

Drone Express is set to begin test flights this week with a full pilot launch later this spring in Centerville, Ohio.  The drones will be operated by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer backed up by additional off-site monitoring.

“The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers,” said Ethan Grob, Kroger’s director of last mile strategy and product. “We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger.”

Both UPS and Amazon have also been testing drone deliveries, with the Amazon Prime Air service able to deliver packages up to five pounds in half an hour or less for customers in certain markets.

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