New Walmart Patent Looks to Create Blockchain-Based Drone Communication Systems

The biggest name in the global retail industry, Walmart, submitted a patent on August 1st which shows the company’s’ interest in developing a blockchain-based drone communication system.

Walmart has recently shown increasing interest in filing drone patents. Since June of 2018 Walmart has filed 97 new drone patents with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

On the other hand, Amazon has filed only 54. The number of drone patents filed with the WIPO globally rose by 34% between July of 2017 and June of 2018, with a good portion of that growth taking place in the U.S. The company’s history of blockchain-based drone communication systems can be traced back to May 2017 when they submitted a patent application for a drone delivery system that focuses on how packages will be received.

Instead of just delivering goods to your doorstep, drones would drop packages into secure boxes (lockers) that communicate with the drone. The abstract for the patent application titled “Cloning Drones Using Blockchain” says:

“A method of drone-drone communications using blockchain includes: determining operational parameters of a first drone; encrypting the operational parameters of the first drone; storing the encrypted operational parameters of the first drone in a block of a blockchain; determining when a second drone is in proximity of the first drone; retrieving the encrypted operational parameters of the first drone from the block of the blockchain; decrypting the encrypted operational parameters of the first drone; retrieving the operational parameters of the first drone-based on the decryption; and configuring the second drone with the operational parameters of the first drone.”

The inventors credited in the patent are John J O’Brien. Donald R High, Joseph Jurich, Brian Mchale, Robert Cantrell, and Todd Mattingly.

The drone wars between the two delivery giants, Walmart and Amazon have increasingly been picking up heat. A few months back, when Amazon Prime cut its default shipping time to one day, Walmart fired back by offering free next day shipping on orders over $35.

Walmart has additionally applied for patents that would support the use of drone technology for agricultural applications. Some of these patents include plans for drones that would identify pests attacking crops, monitor crop damage, spray pesticides, and pollinate crops.

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