Kroger, one of America’s biggest grocery chains, is beginning to test a drone-delivery service near Dayton, OH. Starting this week, Kroger will begin testing deliveries near the company’s store in Centerville, Ohio.
“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,” according to Kroger’s announcement.
The Federal Aviation Administration has permitted commercial use of drones for several years. But until recently, regulations required the drones to be within the line of sight of the operator. That wasn’t a big deal for aerial photography, but it made drones useless for a retail delivery service.
The drones will be provided by Drone Express, a division of Telegrid Technologies. “The flights will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring,” according to Kroger’s press release.
The drone is only capable of lifting about five pounds (2.2 kg) of cargo, which limits the kinds of goods customers can order. Kroger says it will offer special bundles of useful products that fit within the weight limit—like a “baby care bundle with wipes and formula” or a “s’mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.”
Kroger says that deliveries could be made in as little as 15 minutes.
Interestingly, the delivery location doesn’t have to be a postal address—it can be any set of GPS coordinates. So if you’re having a picnic in the park, you can pull out your smartphone and have a drone deliver a missing condiment right next to your picnic blanket.