Walmart-Backed DroneUp Cuts Jobs as Drone Delivery Market Faces Challenges

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Drone delivery startup DroneUp is implementing job cuts, highlighting the struggles faced by the drone delivery market. The company confirmed the layoffs, describing them as affecting only a small percentage of its team, which currently consists of 418 employees. As one of the companies striving to make drone delivery a reality, DroneUp has been fulfilling orders for retail giant Walmart.

DroneUp, backed by Walmart and competing with industry leaders like Amazon, is streamlining its operations amidst the evolving drone delivery landscape. The Virginia-based startup, founded in 2016, utilizes a fleet of quadcopter-style drones for efficient last-mile deliveries of various items, including clothing, medication, and food.

Shifting Focus and Job Cuts

The recent job cuts at DroneUp coincide with the company’s strategic decision to prioritize its delivery hubs, which serve as on-demand order fulfillment centers across the United States. The ex-employees revealed that DroneUp is shifting away from enterprise services such as construction, real estate monitoring, aerial data capturing, and marketing.

CEO Tom Walker stated that the restructuring is aimed at aligning the company’s structure with the continuous growth and success of drone delivery services. While DroneUp confirmed the layoffs, it also expressed plans to hire more individuals over the next six months, emphasizing its commitment to the expansion of drone services and other related offerings.

Challenges in the Drone Delivery Market

DroneUp is among a group of startups racing to revolutionize the drone delivery sector. Collaborating with Walmart, DroneUp, Zipline, and Flytrex have forged multiyear partnerships to enable the swift delivery of lightweight goods within 30 minutes. At present, over 36 Walmart stores in the United States offer drone delivery services.

However, the commercialization of drone delivery in the United States has encountered obstacles, including technical challenges and the rigorous regulatory approval process led by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While some companies have obtained authorization for limited drone delivery testing in specific markets, safety concerns remain a key consideration for the FAA.

Impact of Economic Downturn

The economic downturn has further impacted the progress of drone delivery operators. In January, Amazon laid off a significant number of employees from its Prime Air drone delivery unit, coinciding with the project’s preparations to initiate package delivery to select customers in two small U.S. markets. Despite the setbacks, companies like UPS, Amazon, and Alphabet’s Wing unit are persisting in the development of their own drone delivery services.

Source: ©Paul Hennesy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images ; CNBC
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Yustika Kusuma Putri, she is social media marketer from Indonesia. I currently work as a Media Manager in Technologie Omicrom Sendas inc.
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