Walmart filed several patents Wednesday that suggest the company may be moving toward a technology-based future.
As Gizmodo reported, Walmart filed patents that include a shopping cart with a “sensing device” and the ability to track customers through wrist-based wearable devices, like a Walmart version of a Fitbit or Apple Watch. It also filed patents that include the ability to sense inventory and stock.
“It’s possible this is a play towards cashier-less shopping, like the kind Amazon is increasingly rolling out with its Amazon Go locations,” according to Gizmodo.
Walmart also filed patents that include adding drones that can assist customers while shopping, according to The Verge. The patent would lead to a process where customers could use their smartphones to call a drone that would “provide assistance to the user in the form of price verification or navigation assistance,” according to the patent.
Another patent suggests the company wants to “make shopping carts smart" by allowing them to "communicate with a mobile device (presumably to help you navigate to where items are),” The Verge reported.
Two other patents include autonomous devices that can sense how many items there are in a single container and another that senses information about vehicles, specifically for functions related to delivery.
“Whether any of this will actually come to fruition is hard to tell. Companies routinely file patents that are never realized, but the idea of a future where drones are at your command as shopping assistants is interesting at the very least,” according to The Verge.
Walmart appears to be shifting toward a technology-based future. As the Deseret News reported, the major retailer launched shelf-scanning robots in 50 stores across the U.S. in October 2017.
Videos of the drones scanning the shelves in California quickly went viral online.
Shopper Deborah Espinoza told KTVU she’s uneasy about the devices.
"Well, it's a little scary because I feel it's taking somebody's job,” she said. “But if it isn't taking somebody's job, if it's gonna do benefits for Walmart, then it would be good.”