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Watch out Santa: Gift-giving drones take to Tampa skies

For a $3.99 fee, Walmart will offer aerial delivery to customers who live within a mile of four participating stores in the area.

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Just in time for the last-minute holiday shopping rush, Walmart has launched its DroneUp network — a drone delivery service — at four stores in the Tampa Bay region.

According to a news release, delivery via done is available only to customers who live within a mile of the participating stores in Brandon, New Port Richey, Tampa and Valrico. For a delivery fee of $3.99, drones can deliver items weighing up to 10 pounds in 30 minutes or less. Orders must be placed at the DroneUp network website.

“Drone delivery makes it possible for our customers to shop those last-minute or forgotten items with ease, in a package that’s frankly really cool. Being on the forefront of that innovation at Walmart is something we’re proud of,” states Vik Gopalakrishnan, Walmart’s vice president of innovation and automation, in the release. “It may seem like a futuristic option, but it’s giving our customers what they’ve always wanted, and that’s time back to focus on what is most important to them.”

Tampa Bay customers can use the promo code FreeDeliveryFL on their first DroneUp order to get the $3.99 delivery fee waived. Three Walmart stores in the Orlando area are also offering the service, and the retailer plans to launch DroneUp networks in Arkansas, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Virginia by the end of the year.

DroneUp deliveries, the release states, are made possible by a team of certified pilots who operate the aircraft in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

“Our mission is to set the gold standard for drone delivery and by partnering with Walmart, bring the incredible benefits that drones offer to local communities, organizations, and businesses,” DroneUp CEO Tom Walker states in the release. “Our approach is unique — we practice safety above all else and incorporate state-of-the-art technology. Our strong relationship with the FAA has also been critical to our success as we build an infrastructure that supports growth and great career programs for operators now and in the future.”



Brian Hartz

Brian Hartz is the Business Observer’s features editor. He has worked for the publication since 2017. Brian holds a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and has been a St. Petersburg resident since 2013. He has also worked for newspapers and magazines in Indiana, Canada and New Zealand.

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