Wal-Mart Cooperates With IBM for Blockchain-based Drone Delivery Patent

  • 14 June 2017
  • Cas Proffitt



Blockchain has been touted for its usefulness in boosting the efficiency of supply chain and industry alike. On November 25, 2015, Wal-Mart applied for a patent on “Unmanned Aerial Delivery to Secure Location” which was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on May 25, 2017. The patent made use of the term “blockchain” more than 20 times.


Wal-Mart has worked with IBM to develop this drone-based delivery system for more than a year. The collaborative delivery method relies on UAVs authenticating with secure drop-off points. Once the UAV comes close enough, a corresponding locker will scan it and open to receive the package. After dropping the package off, UAVs return to base to pick up other parcels.


How does this delivery system make use of blockchain technology?


The delivery system developed jointly by IBM and Wal-Mart relies on blockchain-based infrastructure and inter-device communication to monitor package status, temperature, and other information about deliveries. The underlying blockchain spreads information across all connected devices and ensures that no packages are unaccounted for.


Blockchain technology also enables Wal-Mart to more efficiently track inventory and ensure that secure delivery locations are monitored constantly.



What does this change within the industry?


Using blockchain technology to monitor deliveries and inventory enables Wal-Mart to compete with other large-scale distributors such as Amazon in the consumer delivery services market within larger cities. This management scheme also enables Wal-Mart to monitor their inventory that is being delivered and automatically update their inventory on the blockchain.


How does this impact the consumer?


Consumers can expect to see reduced need to travel to the store, ease of access to consumer goods, and even further reduced traffic flow in larger cities. Drones can be used to deliver parcels throughout larger cities, and delivery reports as well as inventory reports can be stored in a ledger that cannot be tampered with.


Wal-Mart can use this increased data integrity to expand into other markets by allowing their inventory to become further targeted to a specific location.



Wal-Mart has patented a novel package delivery method using blockchain technology as an underlying administrative layer to track and report on package status, location, temperature, and other valuable information. Their delivery method also uses autolockers and machine-to-machine communications to keep delivery locations secure.


Consumers see benefits in the form of reduced traffic, more readily available resources, and a more tailored stock of consumer goods in their area.

Wal-Mart’s patent for a novel delivery system to a secure location has been more than a year in the making along with technical help from IBM. The patent was initially filed on November 25, 2015 and was published by the USPTO on May 25, 2017. This patent includes the word blockchain more than 20 times and relies on blockchain-based infrastructure to secure and store information about consumer goods and delivery statuses.



About Cas Proffitt

Cas is a B2B Content Marketer and Brand Consultant who specializes in disruptive technology. She covers topics like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and big data, to name a few. Cas is also co-owner of an esports organization and spends much of her time teaching gamers how to make a living doing what they love while bringing positivity to the gaming community.