Walmart's future may include in-store drone assistants and smart shopping carts
Walmart has been churning out a lot of ideas behind the scenes. The big box retailer recently published a slew of patent filings that could reshape the shopping experience as we know it.
While there's no guarantee any of these ideas will actually be brought to life, they offer a glimpse into Walmart's vision for the future of retail.
Here are six of Walmart's recently published patent filings:
1. Smart shopping carts
This filing shows a shopping cart paired with a sensing device. It says a mobile device could perform navigation operations, so perhaps it's the start of self-driving carts.
2. Wearable tracking devices
This one is for a wearable device that tracks its users' activities. It could potentially be used to improve employee productivity. Amazon filed for a similar employee-tracking device back in 2016.
3. In-store inventory trackers
This filing shows an 'electronic imaging device' that could sense when inventory is getting low. Instead of having human associates check inventory levels, this device could send a low stock signal on its own.
4. In-store drone assistance
Walmart stores are big, and drones might be able to help. The retailer filed for drone assistance technology that could "provide price verification" or "navigation assistance."
5. A blockchain ledger
Walmart isn't getting left out of the blockchain craze. The retailer filed for a user interface model that would use blockchain to help customers resell products at a new price.
6. Blockchain-powered delivery truck fleets
Walmart wants to make deliveries easier for self-driving trucks. This technology would let autonomous vehicles into restricted areas by using "authentication-based access and encryption."
Again, just because Walmart filed these patents doesn't mean it has plans to actually make any of these products. The company has published 1,419 patents since 2009, according to CB Insights. However, the latest filings shine a light on how Walmart plans to take on an increasingly Amazon-dominated landscape.
Walmart did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.