NPR logo Ready, Set, Drone: Wal-Mart Joins Amazon, Google In Testing Delivery Drones

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Ready, Set, Drone: Wal-Mart Joins Amazon, Google In Testing Delivery Drones

Joining Amazon, Google and other companies, Wal-Mart will test drones for commercial uses like home deliveries. i

Joining Amazon, Google and other companies, Wal-Mart will test drones for commercial uses like home deliveries. Danny Johnston/AP hide caption

toggle caption Danny Johnston/AP
Joining Amazon, Google and other companies, Wal-Mart will test drones for commercial uses like home deliveries.

Joining Amazon, Google and other companies, Wal-Mart will test drones for commercial uses like home deliveries.

Danny Johnston/AP

Signaling its intent to compete with Amazon and other companies in using drones to fill and deliver online orders, Wal-Mart has applied for permission to test drones for home deliveries and curbside pickup.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports for our Newscast unit that Wal-Mart has already been testing drones inside:

"According to an application filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, the company wants permission to research drone use in deliveries to customers at Wal-Mart facilities as well as consumer homes. The application comes as Amazon, Google and other companies test drones. The FAA is expected to establish rules for use of commercial drones over the next 12 months.

"Commercial drone use is currently illegal, and polls show that the majority of Americans don't like the idea of drones making deliveries. The FAA will review Wal-Mart's application and decide whether it should be fast-tracked or if the company qualifies for an exemption from the rules, which would involve seeking public comment."

The drones will also be used to check warehouse inventory and make distribution more efficient.

"Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation fleet," a Wal-Mart spokesman told Reuters. "There is a Wal-Mart within 5 miles of 70 percent of the U.S. population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones."

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