Amazon and Google have already publicly staked their claims as leaders in drone delivery, an area that seems ready to explode even though the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t allow such a thing to happen just yet.
Now Walmart says it wants in. The retailer has asked the FAA “for permission to test drones for making deliveries to customers in its parking lots and at customers’ homes,” USA Today reports. Drone tests by Walmart have already taken place inside some of its buildings. Walmart would also like to use the drones to check on its buildings, warehouses and distribution centers.
“Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation fleet,” Walmart spokesman Dan Toporek told Reuters. “There is a Walmart within five miles of 70 percent of the US population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones.”
The FAA has approved more than 2,000 exemptions for commercial drones that do such things as aerial photography, pipeline inspection and agricultural monitoring, USA Today notes. However, as Forbes notes, “Very few exemptions were granted for drones carrying payloads.” DJI does point out that ones were granted to “fly specific cell phone sensors or life jackets in rescue situations,” though.
While approvals for massive drone-delivery service is still a long way away, Walmart is asking if it can make deliveries to smaller neighborhoods in which everyone on the potential flight path gives written permission for drones to be used in the area.