Signaling its intent to compete with Amazon and other companies in using drones to fill and deliver online orders, Walmart has applied for permission to test drones for home deliveries and curbside pickup.
NPR's Laura Sydell reports for our Newscast unit that Walmart has already been testing drones inside:
"According to an application filed with the Federal Aviation Administration the company wants permission to research drone use in deliveries to customers at Walmart facilities as well as consumer homes. The application comes as Amazon, Google and other companies test drones. The FAA is expected to establish rules for use of commercial drones over the next 12 months.
"Commercial drone use is currently illegal, and polls show that the majority of Americans don't like the idea of drones making deliveries. The FAA will review Walmart's application and decide if it should be fast-tracked or if the company qualifies for an exemption from the rules, which would involve seeking public comment."
The drones will also be used to check warehouse inventory and make distribution more efficient.
"Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation fleet," a Walmart spokesman told Reuters. "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."