Walmart is testing the use of flying drones to handle inventory at its large warehouses, which supply the thousands of Walmart stores throughout the nation. In six to nine months, the company said, the machines may be used in one or more of its distribution centers.
At a recent demonstration at a dry goods distribution center, a drone moved up and down an aisle packed nearly to the ceiling with boxes, taking 30 images per second. Shekar Natarajan, the vice president of last mile and emerging science, explained that the machines could help catalog in as little as a day what now takes employees about a month.
Walmart workers now manually scan pallets of goods with hand-held scanning devices. The drone’s methodical, vertical movements would essentially mimic the path of a person in a forklift who might be inspecting labels and inventory.
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