Drone Express technology allows the delivery of ordered packages to the location of a customer's smartphone

Kroger Delivery x Drone-Express

Kroger is expected to begin customer deliveries later this spring using the drones. (Credit: The Kroger Co.)

American retail company Kroger has partnered with Drone Express to pilot grocery delivery using autonomous drones.

Under the pilot programme, the retailer will utilise Drone Express technology to deliver ordered packages to the location of a customer’s smartphone.

The technology provides customers with the flexibility to order delivery of picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to the beach, or condiments to a backyard cookout.

Kroger product experience group vice president Jody Kalmbach said: “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.”

Test flights for the new drone delivery service are expected to be soon commenced by Drone Express near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio.

Licensed Drone Express pilots will manage the flights from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring.

Kroger is expected to begin customer deliveries using drones later this spring.

A second pilot for the drone delivery is planned to be launched this summer at a Ralphs store in California.

Kroger’s last mile strategy and product director Ethan Grob said: “The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers.

“We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger.”

Kroger is planning to introduce bundled product offerings so that the packages are within the current weight limits of about five pounds for drone delivery.

Drone Express, a division of TELEGRID Technologies, is a logistics firm that enables companies to integrate drone delivery into supply chains and service offerings.