News & Politics

Walmart Just Months Away from Using Drones to Check Warehouse Inventory

Via Reuters:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) said Thursday it was six to nine months from beginning to use drones to check warehouse inventories in the United States, taking a step closer to using the technology to compete better with rivals.

In October 2015, the world’s largest retailer applied to U.S. regulators for permission to test drones for home delivery, curbside pickup and checking warehouse inventories as it planned to use drones to fill and deliver online orders. Federal regulators are still considering rules for commercial operation of drones that would be involved in package delivery – viewed as the next frontier for big retailers such as Walmart and Amazon Inc (AMZN.O).

Walmart’s Vice President of Last Mile and Emerging Sciences Shekar Natarajan demonstrated the use of drones to reporters in one of the company’s regional distribution centers.

“We are still in early phases of testing and understanding how drones can be better used in different types of business functions,” he said.

The remotely controlled drone captured 30 frames per second of products on aisles and alerted the user when product ran out or was incorrectly stocked. Natarajan said drones can reduce the labor intensive process of checking stocks around the warehouse to one day. It currently takes a month to finish manually.

Anything that can reduce thirty days of pricey human labor to one day of cheap technological labor is going to be a boon for consumers. You will have to explain that to your liberal friends, of course, as they don’t grasp the concept that both extra costs and savings eventually get passed along to the customer.

Speaking of extra costs, the higher mandatory minimum wage people really need to pay attention to the ever-quickening pace of technological innovation. They want to make the price of lower-skilled human labor unnaturally skyrocket at the very same time in history when technology may be nudging some of them out the door anyway. The only way they will be able to slow the pace is through onerous anti-business regulation. As that is exactly what higher minimum wage laws are, we already know they aren’t afraid to do so.

As for the drones making our lives cheaper and better, I’m often conflicted about them buzzing through the air making deliveries.

The I think about how long it takes for GrubHub to get through West L.A. traffic during rush hour.

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