Automated delivery drones are not anymore a thing of the future, according to the new vision by one of the largest retail giants in the world, Walmart. According to the recent patent efforts by the company, it is clear that Walmart is tapping into blockchain – and one of the points in these efforts is the company’s focus on autonomous drones.
According to Walmart, drones “can greatly improve the customer experience without overburdening the human associates of the facility and can contribute to reduced customer satisfaction.”
New Application Shows Walmart’s Drone-Robot Patent Based on Blockchain
In a new patent application that was published on August 30th, the retail giant applied for a system by which “autonomous electronic devices” communicate with each other in a wireless way and pass transported objects to each other after a (previous) identification process is completed.
Speaking of, the robot-like drones will identify each other by a variety of means – sending signals from one to the other such as RFID codes, QR codes or ultrasound, according to the patent filed by Walmart.
Walmart Sees the Automated Technology as More Reliable and Challenge-Oriented
The use of automated technology, as the patent reads, is envisioned as a way that would reduce the times at which elements of the delivery process need to be “trusted”. More importantly, Walmart is confident that consumers should trust drones about the delivery of their goods – and especially trust the fact that these flying machines “are reliable and raise the challenges related to security” with the existing system.
The document also describes the blockchain system as “a plurality of nodes configured to generate computational proof of record integrity and the chronological order of its use for content, trade, and/or as a currency of exchange through a peer-to-peer network in which each node works on finding a difficult proof-of-work for its bloc”.
Describing the Blockchain-Vs.-Drone System in Detail
As the patent says, the entire system for which Walmart is applying includes a first blockchain key and a second blockchain key. Both of these keys are configured to facilitate and confirm the identity of the first mobile autonomous device and the identity of the second mobile autonomous electronic device accordingly. This is how the drones (robots) are supposed to coordinate and sync their activities.
However, the interesting things begin with the “signaling” part, or when the first drone starts sending signals to the second one. As the patent describes:
“The first mobile autonomous electronic device is configured to wirelessly communicate with a second mobile autonomous electronic device responsible for receiving the object at the specified location. The first mobile autonomous electronic device is configured to receive a set of identification information associated with the second mobile autonomous electronic device and to autonomously travel to the specified location. The first mobile autonomous electronic device is also configured to transmit a first authentication signal to the second mobile autonomous electronic device upon arrival at the specified location, and the second mobile autonomous electronic device is configured to confirm an identity of the first mobile autonomous electronic device based on the first authentication signal. The first mobile autonomous electronic device is also configured to receive a second authentication signal from the second mobile autonomous electronic device in response to transmission of the first authentication signal, and to confirm an identity of the second mobile autonomous electronic device based on the second authentication signal.”
In simple words, this would allow delivery of objects to a specific location through two devices, where the first device would wirelessly communicate with a second mobile autonomous device that is responsible for receiving the object in a specific location and be able to autonomously travel to the (second) location and transmit a signal to the first device that the package has been delivered.
Prepared for What the Future Holds
The patent for this system is a new effort from Walmart that will see drones shuttling products and working across different departments – as a process that is thoroughly planned. The idea is to obviously free the customers from walking across the super-sized emporiums and finding what they want – and instead – let the drones do the work and seamlessly deliver the items from the far-away storerooms.
With this, Walmart confirms that it is on-par and following the moves of tech giants like IBM, Microsoft and others, which are continuously filing for blockchain patents in hope to make their existing processes easier, more reliable and more cost-efficient.