The world’s largest discount retailer, Walmart Inc. has filed a number of patents that suggest it is gearing up to revolutionise package deliveries with blockchain bringing the final missing piece of technology to its plan.
The latest patent released on Thursday 5th July, entitled ‘Delivery Reservation Apparatus and Method’, is to have delivery hubs that use a blockchain technology public ledger to determine available capacity and make reservations.
The proprietary status, is not only recognised for its reservation system, but also as each docking station or delivery hub will have an immutable node that is then locked within a blockchain network.
Both Walmart and Amazon have already implemented a package docking system in the U.S., however the security that blockchain’s immutable ledger can offer, seems to put Walmart one step ahead of the online retail behemoth.
The U.S. patent application number 62441705, lists Bruce Wilkinson and Todd Mattingly as the inventors. The system targets the issues of packages that require a signature upon delivery, the patent reads:
“Updates to the blockchain may comprise transfer of capacity units into and out of the public ledger, and one or more nodes on the system may be configured to incorporate one or more updates into blocks to add to the distributed database,”
Submitted early last year, the blockchain patent is part of Walmart’s ambitions to resolve the retail sectors issues and ‘pain points’ with product deliveries, by developing a new ‘Smart Delivery’ management system.
Earlier in March, Walmart’s ‘Smart Package’ patent application was released. A blockchain-based tool that will also integrate autonomous vehicles and unmanned drones to track details of a package, such as the contents, location and environmental conditions.
Much like Amazon, Google, Facebook and over 2000 other U.S. businesses, Walmart has obtained permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly drones, and already use them internally within their warehouses.
Walmart has been embracing blockchain technology, with a substantial number of patents filed, including a recorded purchase ledger that will enable customers to resell their items on a sales platform, together with its record.
The various Walmart blockchain patents have extended to a variety of industry sectors, such as in medicine for a medical records system, and energy for a blockchain energy consumption managements system.
Together with IBM and Hyperledger, the company is undergoing a number of major trials, most notably to use Blockchain to detect and remove recalled foods from its products list, which it claims will reduce waste and improve contamination management, as well as transparency.