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U.S: Kroger and Drone Express launch drone delivery trial of groceries

By Chris Stonor

The American regional supermarket chain, Kroger, is collaborating with Drone Express to launch a drone delivery trial this month in two Ohio cities: Cincinnati and Monroe, reports The launch site will be near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio, located at 1095 South Main Street.

Through Kroger’s pilot program, residents in Cincinnati and Monroe will be able to place online orders on and have their packages delivered straight to their smartphone’s geolocation. This feature will assist customers to gain supplies while they are outside, whether it be a park, beach or yard.

Jody Kalmbach

At present, Drone Express drones can carry packages that weigh up to 5 lbs. Kroger’s list includes baby care supplies, over-the-counter medications and s’mores kits. Kroger says the drones will be able to deliver goods “within as little as 15 minutes.”

Kroger’s Group Vice President of Product experience, Jody Kalmbach, commented, “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 USD10 billion in sales in 2020.”

She continued, “The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions.” Adding, “We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions.” A second trial is said to be scheduled for the summer at Kroger’s subsidiary Ralphs, a supermarket chain that operates in Southern California.

While drone delivery seems to be the latest tech innovation Kroger is exploring, the company has been building up autonomous systems to help with online demand. In July 2020, Kroger began constructing a distribution centre in Frederick, Md. that reportedly uses “advanced robotics” to fulfil online orders for those who live in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The autonomous system developed by the British tech company, Ocado Solutions, allows robotic packers to sort and prepare grocery orders with minimal human interaction.

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