Retail and E-Commerce

Walmart Wants to Track Delivery Drones With Blockchain Tech

Retail giant Walmart is seeking to patent a system that uses blockchain technology to track packages delivered by unmanned drones.


The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the application, innocuously titled “Unmanned Aerial Delivery to Secure Location“, on 25th May, and while that title may not give away much of Walmart’s plans, the application itself reveals further details.


As outlined, the retailer is looking at blockchain tech as a way to track shipments that involve flying drones. The patent application explains:


“In some embodiments, the delivery box may also include a delivery encryption system comprising a blockchain for package tracking and authentication. Package tracking by blockchain may include elements including but not limited to location, supply chain transition, authentication of the courier and customer, ambient temperature of the container, temperature of the product if available, acceptable thresholds for ambient temperature of the product, package contents placed in the container system (products & goods), or a combination thereof.”


It’s a notable release from the global retailer, which has revealed some of its work with blockchain in the past.


For example, last October, Walmart announced that it was working with IBM to develop a supply chain solution focused on China’s pork market, the largest in the world.


At the time, the retailer indicated that it was looking to apply the tech to other supply chains. And while it provided no hint that it was looking at blockchain as an underlying mechanism for aerial drones, Walmart told CoinDesk that it wanted to leverage blockchain to facilitate “fresher and faster deliveries”.


The application also details how the tech could be used to establish identity within the package system.


“Authentication and access may be restricted to specific blockchain keys to access the contents of a parcel’s payload, and may include specific times and locations,” the authors write. “Access to the contents may be determined at the scheduling and purchase of a delivery or products.”


This article was published by Coin Desk on 30 May 2017


Walmart: Blockchain Food Tracking Test Results Are ‘Very Encouraging’

Global retail giant Walmart hosted a presentation on its work with blockchain during an annual investor event last week.


The company began working with IBM and Tsinghua University of Beijing last year to test blockchain-based supply chain applications, with a particular focus on China’s massive pork market. In follow-up statements, Walmart indicated it wanted to apply the tech to various areas – and more recently, CoinDesk reported the company is looking at blockchain as a tracking solution for unmanned delivery vehicles.


The results of the initial trial, though, will arguably set the tenor for Walmart’s use of blockchain, and according to the firm, its food-focused testing has produced “very encouraging” results.


And this is only the beginning, according to Walmart, which said of the presentation:


“This is just the start of our blockchain exploration. We plan to continue to test the technology, by including more data attributes, for example. And we will continue to test how we can use it to improve food traceability and transparency by collaborating with others throughout the supply chain. This means farmers and suppliers and other retailers.”


Walmart explained that the technology has helped it reduced the time it takes to track food from days to minutes, enabling more effective response in the event that tainted products are discovered.

“This will help enable precise and rapid recalls to preserve consumer trust in the food industry, while increasing traceability and transparency of the food system,” the firm said.


This article was published by Coin Desk on 07 June 2017

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