Do Walmart and Target Have a Secret Weapon to Beat Amazon on Drone Delivery?

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We all know that Amazon is the clear leader in online sales and that it is also pushing hard to make drones deliveries a reality. It looks like they have the upper hand, especially when you consider that their nearest rivals in online sales—Walmart and Target—are far behind them in developing drone delivery.

But Walmart and Target have a secret weapon that could, if properly used, give them an advantage against the empire of Jeff Bezos. What is that secret weapon, you ask? Their stores!

Both Walmart and Target have thousands of store and distribution centers throughout the nation that could easily accommodate a drone delivery center.

The good folks over has Business Insider Intelligence have put together some interesting info using data from users of The Weather Company App. They found that 49% of users of the weather app live within 6 miles of a Walmart store and that 47% of users live within 6 miles of a Target store. In both cases, around 15% of purchases these individuals made where under $10 and likely would be light enough to deliver by drones. Walmart’s own numbers are even better. On a recent blog the mega retailer said that 70% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a Walmart store.

In comparison only 44% of people live within 20 miles of an Amazon fulfillment center, beyond the range of current drone delivery technology.

There are a lot of ifs here, but if either Walmart or Target can realize this potential and get in the drone delivery game, things could heat up real quick!

Amazon Receives Patent for Mesh Network to Protect Drones

Amazon recently received a patent for a new ‘Mesh Network’ to protect the digital integrity of its planned fleet of delivery drones.

With plans to spread its drone deliver services, one big concern Amazon has is the ability of third parties to interfere with the delivery drones using jamming devices or hacking techniques.

In response to this threat, Amazon developed a special ‘Mesh Network’ so drones could receive and transmit operating data securely. The network uses several drones to distribute information to one another. According to Amazon the shared data will allow the drones to “confirm or cross-check data such as location, heading, altitude, and so forth.”

If the data the ‘distributing drone’ sends is not observed in the ‘receiving drone’ then it is considered to be compromised and Amazon can take actions to correct this.

Amazon plans to have many drones airborne and these drones will not just be delivering packages, they will also be relaying data to other drones and observing to see if they follow this data. Amazon is betting this encrypted web of communication will make their drone operations safer.

Amazon Conducts 1st Drone Delivery

With a bag of popcorn and a Amazon Fire Stick, eCommerce giant Amazon made its 1st live drone delivery on December 7th. The delivery was conducted in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom, near a secret Amazon test sight Drone Dossier has reported on before.

Video of the drone delivery and more information about what Amazon are planning for their Prime Air service are available here. Amazon plans to use drones to make deliveries in 30 minutes or less from local fulfillment centers. Their plan is to fly a fleet of high speed drones in a designated airspace 200-400 feet above the ground. Aircraft in this airspace would be required to have sense and avoid technology.

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While Amazon is not the first to make a drone delivery it is an important milestone for the future of drones—one that is being made outside the United States. The FAA is making some headway with its Part 107, but more needs to be done quickly to make US regulations competitive with the rest of the world.