Walmart Is Jumping Into The Drone Game, But Not For Deliveries

by admin September 5, 2016 at 4:44 am

Last year, Walmart asked for permission to test drones as part of its delivery system. The company has since made considerable progress in using drone technology, but instead of deliveries, the machines will be used for something else first. 
( Joe Raedle | Getty Images )

In October 2015, Walmart followed the footsteps of rival retailer Amazon in applying for permission from the government to test drones as part of its delivery system.

Several months later, it seems Walmart is making progress in using drone technology in its business. The drones, however, may not be used for deliveries yet, with the company testing them for inventory management in Walmart’s massive warehouses.

According to Walmart, the company could begin using drones in its distribution centers within six to nine months. The timeframe could be considered a definite possibility as a demonstration showed just how far Walmart has gone with its drone development.

In the demonstration, a drone was tasked to move along an aisle that was filled from top to bottom with boxes. The drone was able to take 30 pictures per second, a rate that will allow the machine to catalog as many items in a day as what human workers are able to do in about one month.

Currently, workers have to manually scan the items using handheld devices. The drone’s movements will be copying how a worker would be going up and down the stacks and across the rows of boxes and products, with the drone to be controlled by a human employee.

Instead of scanning with handheld devices, the drones will be taking images with a custom-built camera that is connected to a control center. The drone will be looking for matches to listed tracking numbers, with the employee monitoring its progress.

The usage of drones in Walmart’s warehouses is still in its early development phase though, which is why there is still no specific plan for its launch. However, Walmart said it will be looking to integrate the machines into all of the company’s distribution centers.

With drones to be put in place for the task, there will be fewer human workers needed for inventory management purposes. Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez, however, said workers that would be displaced by the launch of the drones could be reassigned to other tasks within warehouses.

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