Wal-Mart certainly provides convenient locations, prices and online shopping for its customers, but the retail giant may soon take its convenience to a whole new level - picking up and delivering products via drones.
Wal-Mart has asked U.S. regulators for permission to test drones, specifically Chinese-made DJI drones, for making curbside and residential deliveries.
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The retailer hopes to begin tests in store parking lots, where it will deliver merchandise from a retail warehouse to a waiting customer.
For residential areas, the retailer wants to experiment with drone deliveries in small neighborhoods, where it has gathered the "express, written permission" of all property owners along the flight path, according to its petition to the FAA.
Wal-Mart also plans to use the drones to oversee warehouse inventory and distribution. Sensor-equipped drones could also help take stock of items that have been electronically tagged but are still packed inside cargo containers or trailers.
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The retailer is following the lead of Amazon, Google and smaller companies that have recently asked for government permission to operate drones for commercial use.
Although commercial use of drones is currently illegal, companies can apply for exemptions. The FAA has already approved more than 2,100 exemptions for commercial use and testing and aims to respond to each inquiry within 120 days of receipt.
"When you have stores within five miles of 70 percent of the U.S. population, we have close reach to get to a lot of people," Dan Toporek, a spokesman for the retailer told the New York Times.
via New York Times