When you're the world's largest retailer, customers expect a premium delivery experience — without paying a premium. But being the biggest seller on the planet also comes with a few perks.
Walmart (NYSE: WMT ) has a war chest of institutional funding at its disposal, and its massive scale allows it to spend that money on any number of speculative ventures without undertaking potentially disastrous risk. Already, the company has experimented with solutions like drone delivery , food delivery robots and fully autonomous box trucks . A new patent, though, seeks to combine all three.
The patent, filed last week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes a solution that combines driverless technology with delivery drones and robots. Under the proposal, Walmart would use automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that follow a predetermined route. But if they run into any obstacles, they would automatically release a drone to complete the delivery.
"Recently, efforts have been made to deploy autonomous ground vehicles to complete deliveries to customers. The use of autonomous ground vehicles, however, presents its own challenges," the patent reads. "More specifically, autonomous ground vehicles will often encounter obstacles that may prevent them from completing the delivery, such as, for example, motor vehicles, people, animals, road constructions, curbs and closed gates."
Walmart described drones as the "back-up mechanism" in cases in which deliveries using AGVs don't go as planned.
Watch: Delivering everything with drones
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