Walmart delivery drones will soon start flying in North Richland Hills

If you forgot to buy a rotisserie chicken or suddenly have a craving for ice cream, you can get those products in less than 30 minutes if you live in North Richland Hills.

On Monday, North Richland Hills became the first Tarrant County city to allow drones to deliver groceries, medications and other items from Walmart stores at 6401 NE Loop 820 and 9101 North Tarrant Parkway.

The City Council unanimously approved the request to allow Wing Aviation to build the landing pads/heliports in the parking lots of the Walmart stores. The pilot program will last a year.

North Richland Hills is the fourth North Texas city to allow the drones, joining Frisco, Little Elm and Lewisville.

After the vote, council member Blake Vaughn said this is an exciting opportunity for the city. The drones are a much safer means of delivering items, he said.

“I’m very excited about this project. I think it’s a good deal for North Richland Hills,” he said.

The drones will take off and land from the Walmart stores.

Bailey Edwars, government affairs director for Wing Aviation, said the drones, made mostly of Styrofoam, weigh about 11 pounds and can carry around two and a half pounds. The drones will have cameras and sensors to keep them from flying in to trees or other obstacles.

After each order is placed, a flight plan will be created so the drones travel different routes when delivering the groceries.

The drones can operate within a four- to six-mile radius of the Walmart stores, which means they are close to Colleyville, Keller and Fort Worth.

Ivan Jaime, director of government affairs for Walmart, said the company is always looking at new ways to deliver packages.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is an innovation hub for Walmart, meaning the company uses the market to test new technologies.

“We are trying to be responsive to the customers,” he said.

He described how deliveries once took a few days, then groceries were delivered in a couple of hours.

“Now, there is more of a demand for faster delivery,” he said.