Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) apparently wants to move goods without the need for roads, trucks or airplanes. At least that is what a patent filing hints.
A document filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says:
In some embodiments, apparatuses and methods are provided herein useful to transport unmanned aircraft systems to delivery products. In some embodiments, gas-filled aerial transport and launch system, comprises: a transport aircraft comprising: a gas chamber; and a carrier compartment where the gas chamber induces a lifting force on the carrier compartment; at least one propulsion system; and a navigation control system that controls the direction of travel of the transport aircraft; wherein the carrier compartment comprises: an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) storage area configured to receive multiple UASs; and an UAS launching bay that enables the UAS to be launched while the transport aircraft is in flight and while the UAS is carrying a package to be delivered.
The images filed with the paperwork include a diagram of the aircraft that looks very similar to the decades-old Goodyear blimp, which first flew in 1925.
Bloomberg recently took note of the patent, and the fact that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has filed similar patent paperwork.
The fact of the matter is that these ships may never be used. As Walmart and Amazon jockey for dominance in both brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce, each has entered into a number of experiments, from drones to the delivery of goods at small, hyper-local store fronts. Amazon calls them convenience stores. They are merely convenient for people who do not want to wait for a package to arrive from Amazon. Better, for some, to go local and have it the same day.
The tracking for patents from Amazon and Walmart ultimately will turn out to be a great waste of time, just as it has been for Apple. For every hundred patents filed, only one may turn into a real product. Maybe.