Just recently, a survey suggested that of the hundreds of executives polled, 84% indicated that their companies were exploring the possibilities to take advantage of blockchain technologies to improve their business in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, or security. While the same survey also showed that it would be a few years before many of these blockchain applications are implemented, the study showed a promising move for the new technology. Walmart, one of the largest brick and mortar retail stores in the nation, is among the 84% of companies and they are innovatively exploring blockchain to establish those potential new efficiencies.
Walmart is focusing on employing blockchain to help with autonomous delivery drones. The most significant step they have made towards this new venture came in August. Walmart published a patent for a new system, titled Systems, Devices, and Methods for In-Field Authenticating of Autonomous Robots, which will enable autonomous electronic devices to communicate with each other via a wireless network and then pass objects to one another. Thus, one drone will travel to another drone, exchange authentication keys using the blockchain and a pure signal (for instance, an RFID, QD code, or ultrasound), and pass the package if there is a match. The concept is truly revolutionary. Some have even said that it could revolutionize the logistics industry.
The filing itself describes the intended use of the technology. It notes that automation in this process is a key way to reduce the delivery times and reduce the need for “trusted” delivery processes, as the authentication serves as a key, simple component to that trust. In addition, the system described in the patent filing is said to be composed of “a plurality of nodes configured to generate computational proof of record integrity and the chronological order of its use for content, trade, and/or as a currency of exchange through a peer-to-peer network. Each node works on finding a difficult proof-of-work for its bloc”, according to the filing.
What is important to note about the patent is that it is merely a concept at this point. The real implementation of this system has by no means taken place to this point, just like blockchain developments and ideas for many corporations around the world, as sited from the previously mentioned survey.
Walmart’s team also relayed more information on their endeavors into blockchain. They admitted that the solution they are proposing with drones and blockchain could lead to potential issues, as many customers may not want their packages delivered by flying drones. In addition, individuals may not trust drones. Walmart also said that they are looking into ways to utilize smart contracts in their blockchain framework and are exploring different ways to manage the smart devices or appliances they employ.