Walmart announced last Tuesday that they were bringing drone delivery to Arizona and five other states by the end of this year. Those other states will be Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
The retail giant projected that it would reach 4 million households across the six states, averaging about 1 million packages in its first year.
The drone service would be available between 8 am and 8 pm. Only certain items would be eligible, in packages weighing up to 10 pounds. The delivery fee would be about $4, guaranteed to deliver within 30 minutes.
Walmart is the latest in a race with other corporations seeking to capitalize on speedier delivery services using technology like drones. Amazon has been testing a fully autonomous drone delivery service. Although they completed their first human-free delivery in 2016, the corporation hasn’t launched that delivery option officially.
Walmart contracted with DroneUp, a drone service based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, last November. The drones require a flight engineer to navigate them from the stores to the homes.
Their latest partnership hasn’t been the first. During initial months of the pandemic, Walmart used DroneUp’s technology to deliver COVID-19 tests to Las Vegas residences.
Walmart also launched test runs with other drone companies: FlyTrex and Zipline.
Prior to launching drone delivery test runs in the U.S., Walmart tested drone delivery in 2019 with the Japanese supermarket company it owned at the time, Seiyu.
Following the ambush of five Phoenix Police Department (PPD) officers during a hostage call, Councilwoman Ann O’Brien issued a memo requesting that her fellow councilmembers and Mayor Kate Gallego move to purchase drones for PPD. O’Brien explained that drones were needed during the ambush to mitigate the crisis, but that PPD didn’t have any.
As of press time, O’Brien’s request for drones wasn’t included among the agenda items for Wednesday’s council meeting.
News of the attack on the officers made headlines internationally. As of Sunday, two of the five officers shot directly remained hospitalized. Another four officers were wounded from the shooting ambush indirectly. A total of nine officers were injured.
The ambush took place on Friday morning around 2 am. The shooter, Morris Richard Jones III, fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, Shatifah Lobley, then shot at police as they attempted to rescue a one-month-old baby girl left on the outside doorstep of the home where the shooting occurred. The baby was unharmed.
PPD Chief Jeri Williams said Jones’ attack “makes no sense” to her during a press conference later that day, and expressed dismay that these types of crimes happen “over and over again.” Williams said that this latest ambush was part of a greater pattern of intentional violence against police.
“This is senseless, it makes no sense. I’m trying to make rhyme and reason of this,” said Williams. “This violence has no place in our city, but it continues to happen over and over again in our city and in our country.”
Per court records, Jones was a career criminal who once went by a gang alias “Petey Gunn,” most recently released from his five-month prison sentence for conspiring to turn a profit smuggling illegal immigrants across the border in 2020. Lobley assisted Jones in the smuggling and was charged with a misdemeanor amounting to $10 in fines and time served. Jones received three years’ probation for that crime originally; however, a judge revoked his probation after he punched his ex-girlfriend in the face and stole her gun while using marijuana and cocaine — the same woman he shot and killed last Friday. Years prior to his human trafficking excursion, Jones was a Oklahoma street gang member: the Hoover Crips, located in Tulsa. After one year imprisoned for stealing a car in 2004, Jones spent seven years in prison for involvement in drug trafficking and illegal firearm possession as a felon in 2006.
That latter crime was discovered by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Special Agent Josh Petree who was investigating criminal street gangs in the area. At the time of Jones’ conviction for possessing the firearm illegally, Jones had five outstanding misdemeanor warrants for his arrest and was heading to a location to purchase crack cocaine to sell.
After his release on probation in 2014, Jones recommenced his previous lifestyle and would alternate between prison and probation. In 2016, Jones received another sentence of four years before receiving an early release in 2019. It appeared that Jones decided to move to Arizona between his 2019 release and his 2020 arrest.
PPD will release body camera footage of the incident on February 25.