Watch Out Amazon And Google, Walmart Could Have A Drone Delivery System In The Works

18 March 2017, 8:00 am EDT By Anne Baker Tech Times
Walmart has been granted a patent for a drone delivery system as it looks to lock horns with Google and Amazon. The patent filing states that drones will be used for in-store product delivery in Walmart’s various outlets.  ( Andreas Rentz | Getty Images )

The retail war between Amazon and Walmart continues with full vigor and the latter seems to be catching up with the former fast.

In its fourth fiscal quarter, Walmart experienced a significant rise of 29 percent in its online sales. The big box U.S. retailer also ousted eBay to grab the second place in the online e-commerce sector in 2016. Now it seems that Walmart has more tricks up its arsenal to throw the gauntlet to Amazon - a drone delivery system.

That's right! Walmart has been granted a patent for in-store drone delivery systems, putting it in the same league as Google and Amazon. 

Walmart And Its Flying Messengers

Walmart has been granted a patent for a system of drones earlier this week. The drone delivery system from the retailer would not be package delivery one like that from Amazon. In Walmart's case the quadcopter would move between different sections of the store, transporting products from one place to another.

Given that Walmart stores are massive, the system is being incorporated to relieve customers from the pain of walking long distances to get what they desire.

"These teachings provide for dispatching an airborne drone to an item of inventory located within a retail shopping facility, securing that item of inventory to the airborne drone, and then directing the airborne drone to carry the item of inventory to a delivery area located within the retail shopping facility," states the patent application for Walmart's proposed drone delivery system.

Walmart is of the belief that usage of UAVs to ferry specific goods directly to the delivery area will not only improve customer satisfaction, but also save labor in the facility. Walmart's patent filing also states that the drones would not buzz over customer's heads, but will be rerouted towards shelves. However, the patent agreed that customers will have to come face to face with the drones occasionally.

How Will The System Work?

The drone delivery system in each Walmart store will come with a computer system. This system would function similarly to traffic control stations of aircrafts. The computer system would dispatch the drones and also decide their flight path. The drones will have built-in sensors to aid the quadcopter in avoiding obstacles in its path.

Specific areas inside the store would be cordoned off as drone landing zones, some of which will be in plain sight of the customer, whereas others may be hidden from view.

Nets or hooks may be attached to the UAVs depending on the size of the good and weight. These will aid the drone in picking up goods and deliver them to the designated area.

Amazon And Google's Drone Delivery Systems

Although at first Walmart's proposal for drone delivery system may sound similar to Google and Amazon but in reality it is very much different from them. While Walmart is aiming for an in-store drone delivery system, Amazon and Google are looking to deliver products at customer's doorsteps.

However, in the long-term, Walmart could take a page out of Amazon's book and may look to extend the drone delivery service for dropping off packages to customers - at their doorstep.

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