FAYETTEVILLE — Walmart Inc., the world’s largest retailer, will begin testing drone delivery in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the company announced in a blog post on Wednesday.

The new pilot program with Flytrex, an end-to-end drone delivery company, is launching Wednesday and will focus on delivering select groceries and essential items using automated drones, Senior Vice President for Consumer Product Tom Ward said in the blog post. The drones are controlled over the cloud using a dashboard, Ward added.

This project will help Walmart explore on-demand delivery, Ward said in the release. The company has previously tested autonomous grocery delivery through driverless vehicles.

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Ward said in the post. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”

Flytrex, part of the Federal Aviation Administration UAS Integration Pilot Program, previously partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to “standardize backyard drone delivery,” according to the company’s website.

Walmart is not the first company to explore the possibility of drone delivery. Amazon recently got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate its delivery drones, following UPS and Wing, an Alphabet Inc subsidiary.

“At the end of the day, it’s learnings from pilots such as this that will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale and, true to the vision of our founder, take Walmart beyond where we’ve been,” Ward said in the blog post.

Shares of Walmart stock were trading at $141.83 Wednesday morning, up to $3.40, or 2.43 percent.

The blog post can be found here.

This story is from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism

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