Walmart announced Tuesday a drone delivery program for at-home COVID-19 test kits for residents living near one of its stores in El Paso, Texas.
Walmart’s new program is a partnership between Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp. The program continues through Sunday or until COVID-19 self-testing kits run out.
“Walmart has been serving the El Paso community throughout the pandemic with drive-thru testing sites and extended testing hours, and we wanted to provide another way to access testing that provides convenience and leverages technology while learning how drones could impact the delivery of health care in the future,” said Amanda Jenkins, vice president of operation support and implementation for Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness, during a press conference Tuesday.
The delivery program is for residents living in single-family residences within a 1.5-mile radius of the Walmart Supercenter at 1850 N. Zaragoza Road in El Paso.
The drones lower the free test kits to front yards, driveways or backyards. Once completed at home, people send the test kits back for analysis.
Located along the U.S.-Mexico border, El Paso has recently become one of the worst-hit regions in the country for the coronavirus pandemic. Positive cases of COVID-19 have been increasing by more than 1,000 every day in El Paso, with about 77,186 people infected and 839 deaths as of Thursday.
In October, Walmart launched trial deliveries of COVID-19 test kits in Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, New York.
Walmart officials said findings from the program will help determine how drones can play a role in pandemic response, as well as delivering retail products to people’s homes.
In September, Walmart announced a pilot program to expedite last-mile deliveries using drones to carry select items from its stores to consumers’ doorsteps.
“We hope drone delivery of self-collection kits will shape contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale and continue to bolster the innovative ways Walmart plans to use drone delivery in the future,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer product, in a recent blog.
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