>> US retail behemoth Walmart is requesting patents to develop new drone technology. But unlike its chief rival, Amazon, which says its testing drones to deliver goods to customers, Walmart wants to use the flying robots at the other end of the supply chain. The farms that grow the food it sells.
Reuters' retail correspondent Nandita Bose.>> So they filed a series of six patents. And what they essentially want to do there is use drones and have that aid crop production, something that they have never done in the past. So they don't own farms, and they still don't wanna own farms.
But they want to work for their suppliers and use agricultural technology to boost crop production. And the reason they're trying to do this is because they're expanding their grocery operations. They are making deeper inroads into fresh food, expansion of sort of grocery delivery. So there are a bunch of pieces that they're trying to put together, and for that they need to have control over their supply chain.
And the further out they can reach and control that piece, the better off they are in terms of cost for them and prices for customers.>> On American farms drones are often used to survey crops and estimate the size of an upcoming harvest. The designs Walmart filed with the US Patents and Trademark Office are more ambitious.
It's asking to operate unmanned aerial vehicles that don't just spot pests or problems, but can deploy pesticides or pollen. The drones would address problems rather than just spot them. Walmart's push into fresh food follows Amazon's acquisition last year of Whole Foods market.>> There's severe competitive pressure when it comes to the grocery industry.
And Walmart's essentially trying to maintain it's leadership and it's price advantage that it has. And they can do that if they go out and control their supply chain as much as possible. And these patents are, hopefully, going to help them do that.>> Walmart is the largest grocery chain the US, and the grocery business accounts for more than half of the company's revenue.