Walmart has remained mum about its interest in drones since the company revealed it wanted to join the industry last year. Today, it gave some insight into what it has been working on and what it plans for the future at its shareholders meeting.
According to the company, it has already started conducting early tests to use drone technology in its inventory-management processes. Currently, the company performs its inventory cycle-counting process manually through scanning pallets and handheld scanning devices. Walmart wants to take advantage of drones by having one fly through the racks, using its camera to take images of the inventory, and utilizing software to analyze the images. This will help the company identity if its inventory is accurate, or if something is wrong or missing, according to a source.
Walmart also revealed that it takes about a month for its current manual process to complete an inventory counting cycle, whereas the use of a drone would bring its cycle down to just days.
If all goes well, the company hopes to move its tests to real-world test counting in various distribution centers.
“We’re always looking at how emerging technology can enhance our supply chain,” wrote Jennifer DeShields from Walmart digital communications, in a blog post. “Last year, we started a special team to help us do that. Some of the technology we’re looking at includes augmented reality, virtual reality, micro-warehouses, hyperlocal distribution centers, and drones.”