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Walmart seeks patent for delivery of products via drone

Sajan C Kumar
Walmart, e-commerce, flipkart, multinational retail corporation, Indian patent, unmanned flying machines, drones

With e-commerce major Flipkart in its fold, US-based multinational retail corporation Walmart seems to have bracing up to offer innovative delivery options for customers in India, courtesy the unmanned flying machines called drones. Walmart has filed an application seeking an Indian patent relating to a method for delivering products via drones to location, other than residences and offices, which will be designated by customers.

In a bid to give a leg-up to its e-commerce play in India, Walmart has sought patent protection for a method to facilitate delivery of products ordered by a customer to a physical location of a person other than that of the customer of the retailer, via an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone).

The company in the patent application submitted that customers, who are often away from their home and not at their work, sometimes require delivery of products to their away-from-home or away-from-office location, which may be a public place not having a defined street address. Typically, customers who purchase products from retailers over the internet get the things delivered to a defined physical address provided by the customer. For example, a home where the customer lives, or an office where the customer works.

Walmart's innovation will be chiefly a system for facilitating delivery of products via an unmanned aerial vehicle, comprising an order processing server of the retailer wherein the order for the product placed by the customer specifies that the product be delivered to another physical location of the person. There will be a computing device of the retailer including a processor-based control circuit. The device is configured to obtain GPS coordinates of the physical location. The control circuit had been configured to analyse the obtained GPS coordinates of the physical location and to obtain a product drop-off zone for an unmanned aerial vehicle carrying the product, the company said.

The unmanned delivery vehicle, upon receipt of the first electronic notification from the computing device of the retailer, is configured to land at the product drop-off zone based on the landing instructions, and would permit the person to retrieve the product, Walmart added. Walmart had reportedly filed 97 drone patents since July 2018 with the World Intellectual Property Organization, almost twice as many as Amazon, which filed 54.