First it was a crypto-powered electrical grid. Then came a system for health records stored on the blockchain. Now, Wal-Mart has turned to blockchain again, this time to create an army of autonomous robots that will be controlled by the technology.
On Thursday, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a document explaining Wal-Mart’s patent application for a system of in-field authentication electronic devices that will use blockchain keys for authentication. Wal-Mart’s proposal, filed in January 2018, will create a system involving several robots that will handle package delivery throughout the supply chain. The robots will use wireless signals to communicate and authenticate the identity of each another.
As autonomous technologies become “more affordable and available for use,” this could result in increased likelihood of security breaches, such as hacking. This is why Wal-Mart wants to use distributed ledger technology to develop “a medium for autonomous vehicles to authenticate each other, which allows for the security and authentication of the autonomous electronic devices.” The proposed system will also record the delivery information on the ledger making it possible for clients to access and track their products.
“In some embodiments of described above, blockchain technology may be utilized to record authentication signals and identification information to facilitate or resulting from in-field authentication between autonomous electronic devices. One or more of the autonomous electronic devices described herein may comprise a node in a distributed blockchain system storing a copy of the blockchain record. Updates to the blockchain may comprise authentication signals or identification information, and one or more nodes on the system may be configured to incorporate one or more updates into blocks to add to the distributed database,” according to Wal-Mart’s patent application.
Walmart has applied for several blockchain-based patents for systems to help in the delivery process. Last year, the company applied to patent a system that would use distributed ledger technology to manage package delivery hubs like a locker. This system would automatically reserve a locker space for packages and make sure the good are only delivered to a locker with enough space.
The company also applied for a patent for a system that uses blockchain technology to track delivery drones as they transmit packages from physical sores to customers.
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