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Walmart may use a blimp to deploy its delivery drones

It's not letting Amazon have a monopoly on airborne drone launching pads.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 21, 2017
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Hey, Amazon: you aren't the only one who pictures blimps full of delivery drones. Walmart has applied for a patent on "gas-filled carrier aircrafts" that would serve as airborne bases, helping courier drones fly to homes they couldn't reach if they flew from a fixed location. The concept isn't completely new, of course (Amazon filed for a similar patent in 2016) but Walmart goes into exacting detail. Blimps would fly at altitudes up to 1,000 feet and talk to a remote scheduling system that indicates when drones should fetch packages from inside the blimp and head to their destinations.

The thought of ever-present Walmart blimps is more than a little odd, and there's no guarantee that it'll happen (this is just a patent), but it's more plausible than you might think. Amazon and Walmart have been at each other's throats recently as they try to dominate internet-based shopping, and they've frequently felt compelled to counter each other's moves. If Amazon fulfills its Prime Air ambitions and delivers many of its orders using drones, Walmart might not have much choice but to deploy blimps if it wants to keep up. In short: the skies are about to get very crowded.

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