LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There is a new tool in the battle against COVID-19 with the availability of test kits dropped from the sky by way of drone in parts of North Las Vegas.
Walmart announced Tuesday that the company has partnered with Drone UP, a nationwide drone operator, and Quest Diagnostics to offer the free delivery of the test kits to qualified customers.
Customers must live within a 1-mile radius of the Walmart Supercenter located at 1807 W. Craig Road in North Las Vegas and need to reside in a single family home.
The drone will drop off the test kit in a driveway, front sidewalk or back yard as long as the area is not obstructed by trees or vehicles.
The self-administered test can be returned via the mail with a provided shipping label for processing at a Quest Diagnostics laboratory.
There is no cost associated with the delivery or the test kit.
"Some of the silver lining with COVID is we're seeing new opportunities to service folks who are at high risk or who shouldn't or can't leave their homes for mobility issues," said Blair Smith, interim director of the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems, or NIAS for short.
Smith says the announcement is just the beginning of the use of drones in a variety of applications.
The drones come with regulations.
"Unless you have a waiver, you are restricted to daytime operations, you are restricted to flying drones below 400 feet, so there are a lot of rules and regulations that pilots are going to have to follow," explained Smith.
Smith suspects since the delivery is only available within a 1-mile radius of the store location, the deliveries are made within "line of sight" for the drone pilot.
There are some risks when it comes to convenience.
"There's also concerns dealing with drones falling out of the sky, and how do we keep them from falling on people, on cars, or personal property," said Smith.
Operators of drones must carry insurance coverage for such incidents, according to Smith.
As 13 Investigates reported in May, more companies are investing and developing drone programs to enhance the notion of 'contactless delivery' in the age of COVID-19.
Smith says technology is advancing and regulations are catching up to allow more drones to enter the national airspace in the near future.
"There's a lot of uses for drones, someday the sky is going to be dark with drones, there's a lot of things that need to happen in terms of regulation," added Smith.
13 Action News reached out to Walmart, after business hours Tuesday, for additional details about the COVID-19 test kit delivery by drone but we did not immediately hear back.
There is another drone program through the Walmart partnership launching in Cheektowaga, New York, in early October.
For more details on the drone delivery program you can click here.