Walmart and the Air Force are in talks to sell unmanned surveillance drones, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, would combine the companies’ growing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, which can track more than 400 customers, according to the report.
Walmart and the Pentagon have been working together on the drones since at least 2015, but the Airforce has been working on the technology for more than two decades.
Walton-based drone manufacturer UAS-X, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has been in development for decades.
In a statement Thursday, the company said it was committed to being a part of the Walmart deal and that the company was confident of the partnership’s success.
Walter Siegel, Walmart’s vice president of sales and customer experience, told the Journal the company would not comment further on the development of the drones.
The Air Force is working with the Air Resources Board to develop guidelines and guidelines for the use of unmanned aircraft, the report said.
The technology could also be used to provide situational awareness to ground commanders and military personnel who need to locate a downed aircraft, according the report, which did not name the Air Forces.
The drones are expected to be used by Walmart, Walgreens, Target and other retailers to locate customers in the U.S. and around the world.
WalMart and the other companies are also developing drones that can detect and track objects, such as fires, in the air, and the drones can be deployed on a variety of platforms including drones, ships and drones.
Walters CEO, Doug McMillon, recently told shareholders that the drones would provide the company with the capability to quickly respond to a crisis, including natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
Walmers sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 grew by 3.6 percent over the same period a year earlier, with the company seeing its profits climb by nearly 60 percent.
The company reported its first quarterly profit since the second half of 2018.
The Walmart-Air Force partnership is expected, though, to provide Walmart with more data on how customers use the drones, including how they are tracked, which customers are flying the drones in particular areas and where they are flying.
Walman is a leading drone manufacturer.
It has been developing the drones for years.
Last year, Walmart said it would start selling its drones to other retailers and companies.