Walmart Seeks To Test Fly Delivery Drones


Walmart is now seeking to take part in drone-driven package delivery, joining other high-profile companies such as Google and Amazon. The big-box retail giant this week applied to the FAA for a commercial waiver for drone test flights. It has already begun indoor testing with unmanned aircraft, which does not require FAA approval, and is now ready to move outdoors to further test simulated deliveries and other functions, according to a Bloomberg report. Walmart’s interests with drones include inventory tracking as well as package delivery. “Walmart’s distribution system could become more efficient and consumers could be better served, benefiting the public interest,” the company said in its application.

Apparently hoping to compete with the likes of Amazon, Walmart hopes to expand its online retail presence with drones and wants to test grocery and home package deliveries using two models of DJI drones from China, according to the Bloomberg report. The FAA has streamlined the case-by-case approval process for commercial use of drones under 55 pounds, but has a backlog of applications — so it’s unclear when Walmart will get its OK to begin outdoor test flights. More than 3,000 applications have been submitted since May 2014, with about 1,700 approved as of the beginning of the month. Regulations for commercial drones are expected to be finalized in June 2016.