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Walmart files patent for blockchain-based drone communication

Walmart Inc. is seeking a patent for a blockchain-powered communication method between drones, according to a filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Aug. 1.

The technology will be used to store and transmit data — including flight heights, speeds and routes — directly to drones or between drones in close proximity, Walmart said in the application.

"The advantages of using blockchain may include providing integrity of the information being delivered. A blockchain ledger may store any kind of information that may be stored in any other format or medium, for example, a large list of instructions of different types, navigational information, and maps," Walmart said.

The drones could also serve as temporary cells or communication towers in disaster-affected areas, according to the filing.

"The system may also provide unused drone communications capacity to customers in the area. The system may further act as a wireless data provider on a limited basis. This may work for [the] Internet of Things (IoT) devices to communicate with the outside world. The IoT system may store its data until a drone is in the area and then send a burst communication to the outside world," Walmart said in the filing.

Walmart also filed another patent seeking to create a cryptocurrency attached to the U.S. dollar, which will be available at certain retailers or partners.