Walmart's VP of Emerging Sciences Shekar Natarajan demoed the retailer's new [drone] technology to reporters from a Bentonville, Arkansas, distribution center on the eve of its annual shareholders meeting.
The drone technology will be replacing the jobs of inventory quality assurance employees, cutting inventory checks across massive distribution centers (the one in Bentonville is 1.2 million square feet) from one month down to a single day.
In collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA, Walmart is developing internally autonomous drone technology that allows a quad-copter drone, roughly 3 feet by 3 feet, to take 30 images per second from a top-mounted camera.
The camera is linked to a control center and scans for tracking number matches. Matches are registered as green, empty spaces as blue, and mismatches as red. An employee monitors the drone's progress from a computer screen.