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Coca-Cola has teamed up with Walmart and drone flight services provider DroneUp to deliver its new Coca-Cola with Coffee and its zero-sugar variant to customers in Coffee County, Georgia.
As part of a launch stunt, select customers who live in single-family residences within a one-mile radius of Coffee County’s Walmart Supercenter could have their coke-coffee fix delivered via drone.
According to the enthusiasts at DroneDJ, the drone appeared to be a customized DJI Matrice 600 Pro with four arms to hold the package during flight and a tether system to lower the product at the drop-off location. This enabled the drone operators to avoid any risk of the drone coming into contact with people on the ground.
Coca-Cola with Coffee and its zero-sugar option are infused with Brazilian coffee and come in a variety of flavors. Coca-Cola with Coffee is available in Dark Blend, Vanilla, and Caramel, while its zero-sugar counterpart comes in Dark Blend and Vanilla. Each 12-oz. can contains 69 mg of caffeine. A 12-oz. can of standard Coke contains 34 mg, Diet Coke contains 46 mg, while the same-sized coffee has 140 mg or more.
The U.S. is the 50th market to launch the crossover, which premiered in Japan in 2018. A press release from Coca-Cola explains that the crossover is aimed at customers who enjoy both coffee and coke.
“Many people are often torn between reaching for a soft drink or a coffee at 3 p.m. at work, at school or on the go. Now, you don’t need to leave Coca-Cola to get your coffee fix,” said Brandan Strickland, a brand director for Coca-Cola Trademark.
In product testing, of consumers who tried Coca-Cola with Coffee, over 80% said they would buy it—a positive sign for the company after the 2006 failure of a similar concept, Coca-Cola Blak.
Coca-Cola, Walmart, and Drones
This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola and Walmart have employed drone delivery of their products. In 2014, Coke teamed up with the non-profit Singapore Kindness Movement to deliver “happiness from the skies” (handwritten notes and a can of coke) to thousands of Singapore’s migrant workers, some of whom were working as high as the 35th story of construction sites.
While Coca-Cola appears to use drones for special events or product launches, Walmart is exploring automated drone delivery in earnest. Since September 2020, Walmart has partnered with drone company Flytrex to deliver select products to customers in Fayetteville, North Carolina. A tether is used to lower cargo from the drone—which can carry up to 6.6 pounds—from 80 feet in the air, avoiding the necessity of landing.
Walmart has also piloted drone delivery programs in Arkansas, North Carolina, in partnership with Zipline. The company used drones to deliver COVID-19 test kits in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, New York.
These programs have enabled Walmart to collect valuable data on customers’ acceptance of drone delivery ahead of anticipated FAA approval for nationwide goods delivery by drone.
The FAA And Drone Delivery
Full integration of drones into the national airspace is a daunting prospect, which explains the careful pace of the FAA in regulating drone delivery.
A major milestone was passed in December 2020 with new FAA regulations requiring unmanned aircraft systems to broadcast remote ID and location data, and allow drone operators to fly over people and at night under certain conditions. However, flying beyond a pilot’s line of sight still requires a waiver.
Image Credit: Coca-Cola Company