Kroger launches drone delivery service

Kroger is launching its drone delivery pilot program this week.

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The grocery chain has partnered with Drone Express to make deliveries to customers’ homes or to the current location of their cell phone via drones flown by certified pilots.

The deliveries do not have to be made just to customers’ homes.

“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,” said Beth Flippo, chief technology officer for Telegrid Technologies, the company that owns Drone Express.

The grocery chain is designing groups of products, like a baby care bundle with wipes and formula; wellness bundle with medications and fluids; and a s’mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate, that meet the limitations of the drone delivery service. The current weight limit for drone delivery is about five pounds. Some orders can be delivered in as little as 15 minutes.

The launch of the pilot program starts with testing this week at its Centerville, Ohio, store before rolling the service out to customers. The grocery chain plans to expand the service to more stores later in the spring. Another pilot program will start in the summer at a Ralphs grocery store in California.

“Kroger and Drone Express made a great choice in piloting this program in Centerville – a community with a robust business network focused on progress and stability near the birthplace of aviation,” Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton said in a statement. “Families here have the power to transform grocery delivery around the nation and the globe. We look forward to placing our first order.”

Kroger is the latest to test drone delivery service. Walmart started testing the delivery technology in North Carolina. In 2016, Amazon launched its Prime Air drone delivery service.

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