Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, wants to test drones for delivering products, entering a race with online competitors Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bloomberg.com
Wal-Mart on Monday asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for a waiver to test drones outdoors, with a goal of eventually using them to deliver goods to consumers. “Wal-Mart’s distribution system could become more efficient and consumers could be better served, benefiting the public interest,” the company said in its application. It has already been experimenting indoors where it doesn’t need government approval, according to its filing with the agency. The company also wants to use drones to assist with tracking merchandise, such as taking inventory of trailers outside its distribution centers, according to the filing. Wal-Mart will have to wait until it does further testing before it can determine if or when drones will become part of its daily operations, spokesman Brian Nick said.
The FAA has issued more than 2,000 waivers to businesses that want to use drones for photography, aerial surveillance, inspections and other purposes. So far, the approvals have been for low-altitude flights within sight of the operator and away from bystanders, making it impossible to use for delivering products to people’s homes. Groceries: The application outlined several types of drone tests Wal-Mart wants to conduct, including delivering groceries in a parking lot outside a store and launching a drone from a truck to deliver packages to nearby homes. About 70% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Wal-Mart stores, according to the company.
The FAA has fast-tracked drone waiver applications it concludes are similar to previous ones it has granted. If the Wal-Mart application has new features, the agency may take additional time determining whether it meets safety requirements. Wal-Mart plans to test two models from SZ DJI Technology Co., the Chinese company that is the world’s leading manufacturer of small civilian drones.