March 27, 2017
Walmart wants to deploy a fleet of drones in stores to move merchandise. The giant retailer secured a patent to use them to shuttle goods between departments in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce the need for employees to traverse large stores.
The company believes the unmanned aircraft systems will improve customer service and convenience, especially when there aren’t enough employees available to quickly handle a request. It is one way that Walmart is stepping up efforts to compete with online retailers and alternate store formats.
If the drone use is approved, flights would be controlled by a central computer system, and primarily be routed over shelves rather than aisles above shoppers’ heads. Landing zones would be placed throughout stores. Opponents of indoor drones suggest they could pose a safety risk to shoppers. Walmart hasn’t yet announced a roll-out plan for the in-store drones.
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