Walmart Asks The FAA For Permission To Test Drones For Home Delivery, Curbside Grocery Pickups

Amazon isn’t the only retailer on the market that wants to get into the drone delivery game: Walmart filed paperwork with the Federal Aviation Administration today asking permission to test drones outside for home delivery, curbside pick-up and duties around the warehouse and parking lots.

Walmart has been conducting its tests indoors so far, but needs the go-ahead from the FAA to bring its experiments into the skies. It’s seeking permission to research drone use in “deliveries to customers at Walmart facilities, as well as to consumer homes,” according to a copy of the application reviewed by Reuters.

Beyond dropping off packages at a customer’s home, drones could be used to check trailers sitting in warehouse parking lots for inventory, or bring an order from the warehouse to the curbside grocery pickup spot for customers to collect.

“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% of the U.S. population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones.”

Walmart said it wants to try out home delivery in small residential neighborhoods after getting permission from people living in the flight path. The motive here would be to see if a drone sent from a truck could safely deliver a package at a home, and then return safely to its vehicle, the application says.

The FAA said in June that it would establish rules for widespread commercial use of drones within the next 12 months. Once those regulations are finalized, Amazon has said it would be ready immediately to begin delivery packages via drone. Walmart’s spokesman says the company would move quickly to use drones for delivery, depending on how its testing goes and taking the new rules into account.

Exclusive: Wal-Mart seeks to test drones for home delivery, pickup [Reuters]