Walmart is taking the battle to be top retailer to the skies, filing a new patent for what reports are calling a floating warehouse—a blimp-style, gas-filled aircraft intended to receive and disburse shipments via unmanned aircraft.
The patent, filed August 17, 2017, comes complete with plans for “gas-filled carrier aircrafts and methods of dispersing unmanned aircraft systems in delivering products.” Detailing a flying machine that would fly between 500 and 1,000 feet high, the filing reveals a floating warehouse with several launch bays that could be operated either by a human pilot or automatically.
“In a modern retail environment, there is a need to improve the customer service and/or convenience for the customer,” Walmart’s filing states. “One aspect of customer service is the availability of products. The availability of products is dependent in part on the distribution of products. There are numerous ways to distribute and deliver products. Getting the product to a delivery location, however, can cause undesirable delays, can add cost, and reduce revenue.”
Analysts at Bloomberg have speculated that this patent may represent just the latest move in an ongoing “clash” between Walmart and Amazon. As we reported on our sister site, AndNowUKnow, Amazon filed a similar patent late last year, following it up with even more futuristic flight plans—including a phalanx of interconnected drones.
Recently, Bloomberg reports, Walmart has stepped up its efforts to create patents and gain a competitive edge via technological innovations.
Will the future of fresh food be delivered to consumers via a network of autonomous aircraft? Deli Market News will continue to report.