business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Los Angeles Times reports that Amazon “has been granted a new patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures. The concept is part of Amazon's goal to develop a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles that can send packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. Issued this week, the patent may help Amazon grapple with how flying robots might interact with human bystanders and customers waiting on their doorsteps.

“Depending on a person's gestures — a welcoming thumbs-up, shouting or frantic arm waving — the drone can adjust its behavior, according to the patent. As described in the patent, the machine could release the package it's carrying, change its flight path to avoid crashing, ask humans a question or abort the delivery.”

Gizmodo reports that “Walmart filed a glut of patents today that suggest the US’s biggest retailer could be ramping up incorporation of emerging tech in ways that would dramatically change how consumers shop and order.”

These tech patents include a shopping cart “sensing device,” a means for tracking customers through wearables, and systems that could be used for “human-less picking, packing, and delivery.”

The story goes on: “All this stands as yet another sign of the ongoing battle between Walmart and its chief rival, Amazon. While Amazon has made moves into groceries with its acquisition of Whole Foods, considers more physical locations, and continues to court lower-income customers, Walmart seeks to scale up its e-commerce footprint and find any sort of technological edge.”

• The San Jose Mercury News reports that “Walmart has begun testing at some Bay Area stores intelligent robots that can meld artificial intelligence with autonomous movements to assess inventories on store shelves … Using technology developed by Bossa Nova Robotics, a software startup in the Bay Area, Walmart has deployed robots in 50 of its stores to determine what’s on the company’s shelves … The company’s robots can zip down a retailer’s aisles and scan shelves. At the same time a robot navigates through a store, it continuously returns information to indicate what’s sold and unsold in the store.”
KC's View:
All I can say is, check out my review of the “X-Files” episode, ““Rm9sbG93ZXJz,” below in “OffBeat.”