Walmart has applied to test drones for home delivery of online orders as it bids to go toe-to-toe with etail giant Amazon in the fulfilment war.
Asda’s parent company has asked for permission to test drones for home delivery, kerbside pickup and checking warehouse inventories in the US as it seeks to drive down the soaring costs of its online business.
Walmart revealed it wants to commence indoor drone trials and said the technology could be used to deliver items to customers and to replenish stores.
It comes after Amazon gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin testing unmanned aircraft deliveries in US airspace back in March.
Amazon has been restricted to conducting trial flights at 400ft and below, prompting it to call for a separate airspace to be created to allow drone flights to deliver goods to customers.
Potential to connect
Walmart spokesman Dan Toporek said: “Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centres, fulfilment centres and transportation fleet.
“There is a Walmart within five miles of 70% of the US population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones.”
The use of drones for commercial purposes is currently banned in the US. However, retailers are pressing the FAA to make their businesses exceptions, which it has the power to do on a case-by-case basis.
If the rights were granted it would enable Walmart and others to revolutionise their supply chains and home delivery logistics in the face of the rising costs associated with online orders.
Earlier this month, Walmart cited the costs of servicing a soaring demand for online goods as a cause for falling profitability at the business.
The retailer warned investors that its final year profits are likely to be down by between 6% and 12% as it continues to pump money into its supply chain network.