Walmart Patent Focuses on Drone Communication Backed By Blockchain
Walmart Seeks Patent for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Blockchain-Based System
In August, the Arkansas-based retail giant filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for an unmanned aerial vehicle system backed by blockchain. The patent entitled “Cloning Drones Using Blockchain” aims to use blockchain technology so that unmanned drones can communicate with others of its type to exchange encrypted information between them such as flight speed and route, height, and loading capacity.
What It’s All About
For the unversed, blockchain is a decentralized, accessible information database stored in sets or “blocks” on computers and protected by encryption. Although it is publicly accessible, the manner in which a blockchain is created results in an irreversible data timeline.
And it is this encrypted, decentralized ledger that is so attractive to Walmart’s growing e-commerce operation. The mega-retailer is banking on it enabling them to eventually track and authenticate shipments in real-time and even pass off packages between unmanned drones without worry that their information will be stolen or their operations infringed upon. When put into use, a delivery system using blockchain-backed technology is expected to expedite delivery times exponentially.
This Is Not Walmart’s First Rodeo
While the patent application is only a first step in a long process, Walmart is not new to investigating blockchain technology. Although the company filed 56 patent requests alone related to unmanned aerial vehicles, its interest in blockchain goes well beyond drones.
The company has also filed a patent for a vendor payment system using blockchain technology to enable and enhance same-day delivery of packages that require greater discrimination such as fresh produce. And it has filed another for a courier shopping system. A third patent, in partnership with multinational technology corporation IBM, purports to use blockchain technology to ensure food safety.
Walmart also caught many by surprise with a recent patent application for its own cryptocurrency which has been compared to Facebook’s Libra.