Drones May One Day Buzz Inside a Walmart Near You
Jonathan Vanian, Fortune
Mar 17, 2017
Walmart may use drones like in-store messenger pigeons.
The retail giant was granted a patent this week for a system in which drones would shuttle products between different departments inside its stores. The idea is to free customers from having to walk across its super-sized emporiums to find what they want and from having to wait while employees return from far-away storerooms.
Ultimately, Walmart believes that drones “can greatly improve the customer experience without overburdening the human associates of the facility.” Waiting, the filing said, “can contribute to reduced customer satisfaction.”
The drones would mostly avoid buzzing above customers' heads by being routed over shelves instead of store aisles, according to the patent filing. But the filing did leave the door open to humans and flying delivery assistants crossing paths.
Although flying drones over people's heads may not be a safety risk, steering clear of customers may "nevertheless provide an increased feeling of security for those below,” the filing said...