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Walmart Patent for Drones in the Retail Environment

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Walmart Patent for Drones in the Retail Environment

Walmart is the largest employer in the United States with 2,300,000 employees working across its chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. The company also has wholly owned operations in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa.

Walmart also has a massive amount of patented ideas and systems, many of which are  indigenous inventions that they use in their mall for augmentation of their operations.

In the light of new improvements in the retail department internationally such as the fast technological and logistical developments in E-Commerce, there is a competition amongst retail giants as they develop systems and methodologies for improving customer experience. One area where a shopping experience may be improved is during a shopping trip, during which the customer continuously adds items for purchase to a shopping cart or basket and is required to unload the items from the shopping cart or basket onto a checkout counter at the end of the trip.

That is why Walmart is considering the usage of drones and for improving customer experience while they put items to their carts.

The retail giant has recently patented an idea regarding the usage of commercial drones that are used in the environment of a city shopping mall that are meant to facilitate the shopping process. The goal of this patent or simply the goal of this entire idea is to ensure efficient and effective shopping facilitation of the customers as well as employees of a shopping mall; primarily addressing the need for making the shopping proceedings convenient to handle for the workers and much more customer-friendly.

In their own words, they have developed, “A system and method for acquiring store comprise establishing an electronic communication between a mobile device and a unmanned vehicle; tracking in a store by the unmanned vehicle a customer having the mobile device; collecting data by the unmanned vehicle regarding items of interest by the customer; and processing and outputting to the mobile device a result from the collected data, the result used by the customer to determine whether to purchase the items of interest based on the collected data.”

In the patent, Walmart described simple steps and specifications that form the system to be used,

  • The primary equipment needed are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Autonomous Ground Vehicles (AGV).
  • The unmanned vehicle is equipped with a scanning device for collecting the data regarding the items of interest when the user places the items in a shopping cart or basket.
  • The unmanned vehicle includes a sensor for collecting the data regarding the items, a location determining device to track a current location of the mobile device and to add data on correct items to the system.
  • The vehicles are a part of a network and form a grid in the mall.
  • Data collection regarding customer activities performed during shopping trip at the store.
  • Collection by the unmanned vehicle the items of interest after the customer scans them with the mobile device; and then delivery to the checkout counter.

Reference: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180260800A1/en

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