The skies are going to be mighty crowded in a few years if everyone gets their way.
Joining Amazon in the Great Drone Race to the Sky, Walmart is putting its plans into play for next-gen delivery systems or at least trying to do that. The company recently applied to the FAA for permission to test drones for home deliveries, warehouse inventory checks, and curb-side pickups. Though Walmart has been testing drones indoors for a while now, this is the first attempt to get permission from the ruling body to test the drones, manufactured by SX DJI Technology Company, outdoors.
This is just the research phase. The company is looking to figure out which way, if any, is the best way to deliver to Walmart stores and directly to consumers. When it comes to home deliveries, they’re looking to see if they could use a truck and drone combination to speed up the process. The drone would take the package from the truck to the customer’s house and then return to the truck. All customer’s in the flight path of the test drone would have to agree to be a part of the test.
They’re also looking to use the drones to figure out inventory issues. Drones would be able to fly over trailers in the yard and tag what type of product is in each trailer in a few minutes.
Read More: Amazon finally gets approval to fly drones (Sort of)
It’s a tricky situation, since the FAA hasn’t released its official rules and regulations for commercial drones. Currently, all commercial drones are illegal, though some 2,100 exceptions have been made for testing and a few other approved uses. The final ruling and laws are expected to be announced in 2016.
Earlier this year, Amazon battled the FAA for permission to test their own drones and complained about the newly enacted laws requiring all drones to operate within the line sight of the operator, claiming the FAA was limiting their ability with outdated laws. That has been a constant complaint for almost all companies who have applied for approval to experiment with the drones. The industry group Small UAV Coalition, which includes companies like Google, DJI, GoPro, Intel and others, also backs the idea that the government is moving too slowly and the overabundance of caution will come at the cost of innovation.
The companies argue that other countries, including Sweden, Poland, Norway, and others, are not restricting operators by requiring eyes-on the drone at all time. Mostly, it seems like all the companies just want an opportunity to show that operators can operate drones safetly even if they can’t see them directly and even if they’re operating more than one drone at once.
Welcome to the Thunderdome, Walmart.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense