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Walmart Enters Drone Delivery Race

Walmart’s Rollback discount program has claimed to deliver consistent deals to shoppers. But soon, Walmart might have to change the name to Flyback.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Walmart has officially applied as of Monday (Oct. 26) for clearance from U.S. regulatory agencies to begin testing drone aircraft for delivery to shoppers’ homes, curbside pickup locations and warehouses. Dan Toporek, spokesman for Walmart, told Reuters, that a drone program, much like the ones being considered by Amazon and Google, would allow Walmart to optimize the existing nodes of its logistical network for consumer benefit.

“Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation fleet,” Toporek said.  “There is a Walmart within five miles of 70 percent of the U.S. population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones.”

In copies of Walmart’s application to the Federal Aviation Administration, Walmart placed an emphasis on using drones to deliver grocery products to customers’ homes or to predetermined pickup spots in parking lots. However, not all drone-based deliveries would be sent from permanent locations. The application included usages like sending drones out from a mobile delivery truck to facilitate faster last-mile supply chain solutions.

Forbes reported that Walmart would likely tap China-based drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co., a name reportedly well-known within the burgeoning consumer-facing drone delivery field. Valued at roughly $8 billion, DJI controls 70 percent of the unmanned aerial vehicle market, and spokesman Michael Perry is excited about Walmart’s plans.

“We are very excited to see Walmart exploring this space,” Perry told Forbes. “Our uniquely high-performance, easy-to-use and affordable aerial technology continues to make DJI the leading choice for businesses and consumers that want to develop innovative unmanned aerial applications.”

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