Walmart Requests FAA Permission to Test Delivery Drones

Phantom 3

Not one to be left behind, Walmart has requested permission from the FAA to test its own delivery drones. Amazon and Google have already started testing a delivery drone program, and Walmart soon follows behind, realizing that they too can cash in on what can be a lucrative delivery program.

Walmart already offers delivery to Canadian and American customers through Canada Post or US Postal Services. But as these costs skyrocket, Walmart is considering that delivery drones may be the choice of the future. They also don’t want to be left behind when their competitors are offering an attractive deal to consumers.

In October, Walmart sent their application to the FAA—US Federal Aviation Administration—to allow them to test their delivery drones outdoors. These special drones will take items to Walmart warehouses, Walmart package pickup locations (supposedly Walmart stores), and flights to deliver packages to customer’s homes.

Amazon, Google and Walmart are constantly trying to outwit the other. Walmart offers free package delivery in some instances which the others can be hard-pressed to beat, yet they must absorb these costs. What better way than their own fleet of delivery drones? Not only can they reduce costs, but offer customers a faster method of delivery.

The drones would work by taking a package from a Walmart fulfillment center by drone, and delivering it to a customer in the neighborhood. The drone would be unmanned, and of commercial quality, not a toy. This not only improves on the standard postal delivery service, but might eliminate a lot of the “missing in transit” issues that occur.

Walmart doesn’t require permission to test their new drones indoors. They claim that their new drones fly safely and can be easily controlled. They have also been able to land safely on a small target to pick up and drop off parcels.

Much of this drone testing has been done by a company in Bentonville, Arkansas. Their plans are to test these drones outdoors.

Walmart also has other purposes for their drones. They’d like to use them to make inventory checks of the trailers standing outside their warehouses, in addition to using them to deliver products to delivery facilities at a Walmart store location, and to customer homes.

It’s uncertain what Walmart has been testing indoors, but for outside, they want to try the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, and the DJI S900.

For obvious reasons the FAA has been slow in responding to requests for outdoor drone testing. Up until now they have allowed for 2100 exemptions for the testing and use of commercial drones.

Walmart wishes to catch up to Amazon, who have not only received FAA approval, but have been testing them since March. Their Prime Air service would use delivery drones that have eight propellers. Initially they were testing the delivery of shoebox sized bins, but are now able to deliver regular Amazon boxes.

With a Walmart location within five miles of about seventy percent of the American population, the use of delivery drones could become an interesting possibility for the future.

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