Wal-Mart Tests Inventory Drones

ISE Magazine – Volume 48: Number 08

Wal-Mart is testing proprietary drone technology at its 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Arkansas. The drones can operate on autopilot and snap 30 images a second, delivering real-time data to employees about whether the right product is in the right place. This can prevent mistakes that slow delivery times, force people to find the proper items and deliver the wrong products to customers. Real-time imaging on the screen indicates what the drone has found. A green box that pops up signals the all-clear for the shelf. A blue box means the product is missing, and a red icon indicates an error while stocking the center’s shelves.

The drone reduces the time to take inventory from about a month to a day or less, the news channel reported. After six to nine months of testing, the company will decide whether to scale the drone technology across its roughly 190 U.S. distribution centers. Shekar Natarajan, a Wal-Mart vice president working on the project, told CNBC that the technology could have additional uses from everything to crop monitoring to package delivery.