Amazon is the company making the most noise about automated deliveries using drones, but rival Walmart is responding albeit at a much slower pace. The retail giant already signaled its intention to have drones shop for you, but now it wants to create a floating warehouse serviced by delivery drones.
As Bloomberg reports, Walmart filed a patent entitled "Gas-filled carrier aircrafts and methods of dispersing unmanned aircraft systems in delivering products." According to the patent, the floating blimp would be operated remotely by a human pilot while flying at between 500-1,000 feet off the ground. Drones would then be used to collect and deliver items stored on board to destinations in the vicinity of the blimp.
By having a floating warehouse, Walmart could remove the expensive last-mile deliveries from its network. Instead, the blimps would be deployed fully-stocked with products which are then delivered by drones before the blimp returns to a base station to be restocked and refuelled. There's no traffic to deal with and the area served by one blimp could replace dozens of delivery trucks on the ground.
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If this all sounds very familiar, it's because Amazon patented a similar idea last year. Unlike Walmart's design though, Amazon's floating blimp could travel at heights of up to 45,000 feet. There's also mention of hovering over events such as a football game so as to deliver food, drinks, and souvenirs.
While Walmart's idea sounds much smaller in scope, it looks as though the skies will one day be filled with floating blimps from both companies and swarms of drones filling the air with a constant background buzz.
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