SAN FRANCISCO — Walmart is actively looking at the possibility of using drones to make deliveries to U.S. customers, a spokesman said Monday, following the lead of Amazon and other retailers.
The retail behemoth has been testing the technology indoors “for several months” and on Monday made a request to U.S. aviation authorities to do likewise outside.
In addition to deliveries, Walmart wants to use the unmanned aircraft to keep a bird’s eye view on its warehouses or other facilities, or to convey purchases in-store to customers’ cars.
“This is part of our continuous efforts to drive efficiencies in our supply chain and to serve customers faster and better,” a spokesman told AFP. “There is a Walmart within five miles of 70% of the U.S. population, so that creates interesting possibilities for serving customers with drone technologies.”
Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration head Michael Huerta announced last week at a joint news conference that they were setting up a task force to move ahead with plans for recreational drone users to register their aircraft.
After pilots reported more than 700 close encounters with drones already this year, the move was probably inevitable. It could, however, also help open the skies for more commercial drones.
In March, the FAA said it would allow online giant Amazon to carry out testing for its drone program. The company hopes to develop a delivery system which would dispatch small packages in under 30 minutes.
Google is also keen on the idea and in August last year — a month after Amazon sought permission for drone test flights — said it was also trying out using drones to deliver items bought online.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015