Walmart has begun testing the delivery of grocery and household essentials from its stores using automated drones.

The retailer is working with end-to-end drone delivery company Flytrex on the pilot programme. The drones are controlled via the cloud using a “smart and easy control dashboard”. Walmart stated that it hopes to gain valuable insight into the customer and employee experience, from picking and packing to takeoff and delivery.

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior VP, customer product.

“That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier. At the end of the day, it’s learnings from pilots such as this that will help shape the potential of drone delivery on a larger scale and, true to the vision of our founder, take Walmart beyond where we’ve been.”

Other retailers around the world have also been testing drone delivery. Last week, it was revealed that Amazon had secured official approval to begin testing commercial drone flights capable of delivering packages in under 30 minutes.