CINCINNATI – Kroger is testing drone delivery technology it says is smart enough to soon deliver barbeque sauce not only to your doorstep but your neighborhood cookout in as little as 15 minutes.
Testing will begin this week near its Kroger Marketplace store in Centerville, Ohio, between Cincinnati and Dayton. The flights will be managed by licensed pilots with Kroger's partner, Drone Express.
Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a store in California, where Kroger operates is Ralphs subsidiary.
"We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans," said Kroger’s Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience, in a statement. “The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern and efficient last-mile solutions."
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With a current weight limit of 5 pounds, Kroger is stressing the service's potential for providing last-minute or forgotten items, such as sunscreen delivered to customers at the beach.
Because the drones hone in on the customer's smartphone placing the order, it also offers the convenience of delivery away from your home address. So customers could order mustard or mayonnaise they forgot at a picnic in a park.
"The possibilities for customers are endless – we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner,” said Beth Flippo, chief technology officer, of Drone Express' parent company Telegrid, in a statement.
Besides Kroger stores, the grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano's, Fry's, Smith's, King Soopers, QFC and others. The company has nearly 2,800 stores and employs nearly 500,000 workers.
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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Kroger starts testing home grocery delivery with drones