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Walmart To Execute Amazon-like Delivery Drones

Walmart has become the latest U.S. retailer to ask for permission to test drones for making deliveries to customers in its parking lots and at customers' homes, following the lead of Amazon and smaller companies seeking exemptions from government drone rules.

Drone Amazon

Walmart also wants to use the aerial technology to check on its buildings, warehouses and distribution centers.

The retail giant applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for an exemption from current regulations Monday.

Walmart has tested drones inside its facilities but now wants to do outdoor tests. To do that, it needs FAA permission to operate "small unmanned aircraft systems," as the industry calls drones.

Walmart is using drones in an effort to create a more efficient supply chain, company spokesman Dan Toporek says.

“You test for a reason,” he said, "because you learn during tests and you tend to evolve and figure out which approaches are most compelling to customers and most efficient for the business.”

Toporek says Walmart is ready to start outdoor tests immediately if the FAA gives approval.

The approval process typically takes 120 days, said Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, a drone industry group.

Multiple other companies, including Amazon and Flirtey, a drone delivery startup based in Nevada, also are exploring how to conduct deliveries via drone. Through Oct. 22, the FAA has granted 2,020 permits for commercial drones for purposes such as aerial photography, pipeline inspection and agricultural monitoring.
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