The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) and Drone Express, a division of TELEGRID Technologies, Inc., have announced a pilot to offer grocery delivery via autonomous drones in the U.S. Test flights will commence near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio.
The flights will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring. Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralphs store in California.
Drone Express technology allows package delivery to the location of a customer’s smartphone not only to a street address, therefore a customer will be able to order delivery of picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to the beach, or condiments to a backyard cookout, for instance.
Kroger’s Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience, says: “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. 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.”
“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” adds 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.”
Founded in 2018, Drone Express currently has operations in California, New Jersey, and Ohio.