Kroger drone delivery takes off in Ohio town

Ohio

Kroger launched its first autonomous drone delivery from its Centerville store Wednesday. (Photo/Centerville Police Department)

CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) — If you live within one mile of the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, you can now get groceries delivered straight to your location. Despite the rain on Wednesday, the Cincinnati-based grocer launched its first autonomous drone delivery service.

For years, drone delivery has been heralded as the cargo transport solution of the future, now the sight of packages dropping in our back gardens is no longer just a thought.

“Back in 2012 or 2013, I bought a remote-controlled helicopter and I flew in a meeting to commemorate that drone delivery was coming,” said Ethan Grob, Kroger’s director of last mile strategy and product.

The first flight carried groceries to Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton, on a one-mile trip from the marketplace to the town’s City Hall. “Today this is another step forward in what the Wright Brothers brought to us many years ago,” said Mayor Compton.

The box delivered contained two bags of long-grain rice and a plastic bag holding a piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers’ 1903 flyer. It was the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft designed and built by Wilbur and Orville Wright. There to watch this history unfold over 100 years later, was their great-grandnephew, Stephen Wright.

“One of the biggest issues they dealt with is that they couldn’t get any supplies. They could barely find any groceries. Can you imagine how great it would’ve been for them to have this at their disposal?,” Wright asked.

Each drone in the pilot program can deliver up to 5 pounds in 15 minutes. Kroger is offering bundles that will fit those weight requirements, such as a baby care bundle with wipes and formula, wellness bundles with over-the-counter medications, and a s’mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.

“This is truly something that’s game-changing for the industry. Grocery delivery in 15 minutes via drone is truly an innovation,” Grob said.

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