US retailer Wal-Mart wants to deliver by drone

The biggest retailer in the US doesn't want Amazon and Google to steal the lead

US retailer Wal-Mart has applied for permission to begin testing home delivery by drones -- a move intended to ensure online rivals Amazon and Google don't corner the much-hyped market before it gets off the ground.

In an application submitted Monday to the US Federal Aviation Administration, Wal-Mart asked for permission to begin outdoor trails of drone technology and revealed it has been conducting indoor tests for several months.

The company said it is interested in researching the use of drones both within its supply chain and as a way of delivering goods to customers.

It plans to use two models of drone, both from China's DJI: a DJI Phantom 3 and DJI S900.

Both Amazon and Google are already testing drones as a way to speed the delivery of products from distribution centers to consumers. Amazon's envisaged Prime Air service will seek to deliver packages in less than 30-minutes, but to do so it will require a network of distribution centers near major population hubs.

Wal-Mart already has that.

"We have one of the largest and most efficient supply chains in the world," said Brian Nick, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "There's a Wal-Mart within 5 miles of 70 percent of people in the U.S., so that presents some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones."

walmart e commerce fulfillment store distribution center Wal-Mart

A Wal-Mart e-commece fulfillment center

At present, commercial use of drones is prohibited in the U.S., but the FAA has been granting a number of companies waivers that allow them to fly for commercial purposes. More than 2,000 such waivers have been issued to companies, largely for photography, agriculture or surveying operations.

For regular drone delivery to get off the ground, laws will need to be changed. Current restrictions prohibit flying drones beyond the line-of-sight of a human operator or over people.

Amazon and Google are among the companies lobbying for a change in the rules to allow automated operation of drones in a dedicated slice of airspace. Amazon wants a high-speed drone zone between 200 and 400 feet while Google has argued that all airspace under 500 feet be reserved for drones that fly automatically, and that they're integrated with a next-generation air-traffic control system currently being developed by the FAA and NASA.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags drones

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?