A patent has been granted to Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) for a drone system technology which allows shoppers to use drones within a store to fetch products and deliver them to the checkout area instead of having to walk around putting them shopping carts. Additionally, the drone technology would be time-saving since in instances where Walmart employees are required to fetch the product or products for shoppers from storerooms that are located far away, there would be minimal waiting time.
Better customer experience
According to the published patent, the retail giant believes that the technology can enhance the experience of its customers since long wait times have been known to be a leading cause of customer dissatisfaction. The technology is also capable of lessening the burden of its staff since their workload will be greatly reduced.
The patent anticipates a computer system which would serve as a drone traffic control center from where drones will be dispatched and their flight paths decided. In case of obstacles in their paths, there would be sensors in the paths of the drones which would help avoid collisions.
Landing zones for the drones would be set up and some would be visible to shoppers while others would be hidden. Depending on the weight and shape of an item, the patent envisages using hooks or nets to pick and carry products from the shelves to the landing zone. Whenever necessary, it would be up to the employees of Walmart to attach a shopper’s items to the drone after receiving specific instructions via SMS or apps.
For the sake of the safety of the shoppers in the store when the drones are flying, the patent indicates that the drones would be flying over the shelves to avoid aisles.
“In a typical application setting the flight path of the airborne drone will not include any traversals of open space,” says the patent.
In spite of the assurance, the published patent also left the possibility of the drones and humans crossing paths in some areas.
On Friday shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell by 0.78% to close the day at $69.89 a share.