CINCINNATI — Kroger announced a pilot program Monday to offer grocery delivery with autonomous drones. The test flights start this week in Centerville, Ohio, with a rollout of the service scheduled for later in the spring.
The grocer is partnering with Drone Express on the project, according to Monday's announcement.
In its pilot stage, Kroger will offer customers package delivery to the location of a customer's smartphone, not just to a street address. So a customer will be able to order delivery of picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to the beach, or condiments to a backyard cookout.
Kroger is designing bundled products to meet common customer needs and stay within weight limits for drone delivery, which is about five pounds. One bundle offers a baby care package of wipes and formula. Another bundle for child wellness offers over-the-counter medications and fluids. For a campsite, Kroger is planning a s'mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.
You can check out Kroger.com/DroneDelivery to see how to place orders.
Kroger expects orders to be delivered within as little as 15 minutes.
In the beginning stages, the flights will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from a trailer in the Centerville store's parking lot. A second pilot program is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralph's store in California.