If you buy something from one of America's retail giants sometime in the future, there's a growing chance a drone will be dropping it at your door. Joining Amazon in the race to get robotic couriers into the sky, Walmart has applied for permission to begin testing drones for home delivery, according to a report from Reuters.
Walmart has already been testing drones indoors for a number of months, but is now looking to branch out and explore the technology's potential beyond its warehouse walls. In addition to checking inventories inside and outside its facilities, the company has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to test drones for home deliveries and curb-side pickups.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Using drones made by Chinese manufacturer DJI, the testing would be to ascertain whether a drone can safely be deployed from a truck to deliver a package to a home, before returning to its take-off point. The company would first gain permission from residents of small neighborhoods along the flight path as part of its plan to test the drone delivery waters.
Walmart's application to the FAA is under review, with the agency to determine whether it fits the criteria for its fast-tracked exemption process. As it stands, drone flight for commercial purposes is illegal in the US, though the FAA is redrafting rules that cater to the burgeoning industry, with new guidelines expected next year.