CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — The Walmart parking lot on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga is a testing ground right now for some robots in the sky.
A Virginia based company called Droneup has a demo deal with Quest Diagnostics to actually deliver via drone 500 free COVID testing kits supplied by the Walmart pharmacy right to people's homes within a one mile radius.
Droneup CEO Tom Walker explains, "They literally will get a text from us and it will say the drone is enroute to deliver your package. Please remain indoors and cover. Once the drone drops the package at their house they get a text immediately and it says your kit has been delivered and step outside and pick it up."
This drone delivery demonstration project is also underway in Las Vegas but by coming here to Cheektowaga they can present some different challenges to the drone operators.
"Specifically in north Las Vegas we have the Santa Ana winds that come out and create issues for us at night," Walker said. "But by and large it's pretty flat and it's pretty clear. Here is a significantly different set of circumstances. We've had wind, we had rain, we've got planes."
So with proximity to the airport, they're now operating about 150 feet to 200 feet up with FAA certified pilots using GPS and other location mapping technology to arrive at the delivery destination and get back to the parking lot base.
Walker points out, "As long as we are able to make sure that the areas are clear and where we're flying we're minimizing the chance of flying over people and flying over moving vehicles, it does give us an opportunity to put those kits into people's hands without them having to come out into the community for the tests - whether they're coming out for the drive thru tests or where-ever."
For more information on how you would qualify to receive one of the test kits you can go to their website here.