Amazon has been in the news lately for its drone delivery project where they will use drones to deliver packages to your doorstep. Now Walmart wants to use drone technology inside of its stores as opposed to a shipping service. It seems Walmart has filed a patent for a “Method to carry an item within a retail shopping facility” which would entail using drones to fetch items for shoppers from its aisles. The drones would be controlled by a central CPU which would manage flight plans and sensors in the drones would help keep them from colliding.
Walmart seems to think this would be a convenient service for shoppers who may be in a hurry or just cannot find an item in the store they’re looking for. It seems that for this to work, the product needs to be drone accessible and customers need to be kept away from the drones retrieving said items. I guess that would mean the drones would either retrieve the goods from the warehouse portion of the store or product would have to be placed on top shelves of the aisles.
Stores like Walmart are trying to stay as relevant as possible these days as online shopping has become ever more popular. In-store drone assistants seem like a good idea so it will be interesting to see where they take this patent. This would also bite into the Walmart workforce, likely cutting some jobs but also creating others. The one thing the company won’t have to deal with are regulations on drone flights. Since this is an indoor proposal, there aren’t any FAA laws to navigate like Amazon or UPS will have to deal with outdoors.