The race for drone deliveries among eCommerce companies is getting tense with Walmart inching closer to its drone ambitions.
The retail giant said it is a mere six to nine months away from deploying drones for superior management of its warehouse inventories in the United States, Reuters reported.
Walmart’s announcement comes after it applied for a license to test drones for end-to-end fulfillment of online orders in October last year. Its application to U.S. regulators sought permission for checking warehouse inventories, curbside pickup and home deliveries. While the Arkansas-based company got the go-ahead for using drones in its warehouse, it might still be a while before it gets to use the technology for fulfilling drone-powered home deliveries.
“We are still in early phases of testing and understanding how drones can be better used in different types of business functions,” Walmart VP of Last Mile and Emerging Sciences Shekar Natarajan said.
At one of Walmart’s regional distribution centers, Natarajan reportedly gave a demonstration on the use of drones and explained how their use could help further drive down labor-intensive processes, such as checking on warehouse stocks, to a one-day job.
The model used in the demonstration could capture video of products stocked in an aisle at 30 frames per second. The relayed video was then used to analyze and alert the person in charge of depleting quantities and improper stocking of any particular product.
Walmart’s move to push forward with its drone delivery plans is on the heels 0f Amazon’s Prime Air program, which, just like Walmart, is working on getting approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones for faster delivery. So far, the company has only been able to use drones in a test environment.