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May 3, 2021 11:15 AM, EDT

Kroger Joins Drone Delivery Race With Pilot From Ohio Store

Kroger Kroger Co.

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Kroger Co. is diving into drone delivery, starting a pilot at a store near its Cincinnati headquarters.

The supermarket chain is partnering with Drone Express, a unit of Telegrid Technologies, to deliver groceries from a store in Centerville, Ohio, later this spring, the companies said in a statement May 3. The technology allows for deliveries of up to 5 pounds to customers’ homes or wherever they may be, enabling cookout supplies to be sent directly to a park in as little as 15 minutes, the companies said.

They plan to expand the test to an additional store in California this summer.

“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,” Telegrid Chief Technology Officer Beth Flippo said in the statement.

Kroger follows rival Walmart Inc., which has several drone tests underway. Last September, the world’s biggest retailer announced plans to use drones from Israeli startup Flytrex to make deliveries in Fayetteville, N.C. Walmart also is testing using drones to drop Covid-19 diagnostic kits to customers in two markets, and has teamed with a company called Zipline to deliver health and wellness products to shoppers near its Arkansas headquarters.

RoadSigns

The year is 2039. Zero-emission, electric heavy-duty trucks roll past you on the highway. Charging ports are now commonplace at terminals and truck stops. Diesel-powered vehicles are becoming a thing of the past. You sit and wonder: How did we get here? Here, in 2021, Daimler Trucks North America's head of eMobility speaks to RoadSigns. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

While drone delivery promises to reduce labor and fuel costs to make e-commerce fulfillment more profitable, hurdles such as weather, privacy and insurance remain sticking points. To date, UPS Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Wing and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Air remain the only Federal Aviation Administration-sanctioned drone delivery operators.

Drone Express’ robots are part of an FAA program called Beyond, which aims to bring private companies and state and local governments together to develop drone use in areas such as small-package delivery and infrastructure inspection.

Drug chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which has partnered with Kroger on merchandising and purchasing initiatives, began testing deliveries using Wing drones in 2019.

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