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Walmart’s Latest Blockchain Patent Lets Robots Conduct Deliveries Across Supply Chain

U.S. retail giant Walmart has applied to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to patent a blockchain system for deliveries, according to an official patent document released August 30.

The new patent aims to provide a technology for running “in-field authenticating of autonomous electronic devices” to enable secure deliveries. The patent specifies that “[i]n exemplary embodiments, two autonomous electronic devices, such as delivery drones or household autonomous robots, can authenticate each other using embodiments of security procedures described herein.”

The patent is entitled “Systems, Devices, and Methods for In-Field Authenticating of Autonomous Robots” and was filed in January 2018 by Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The document describes a system of operating multiple robots or drones that conduct package deliveries all across the supply chain. The machines are intended to operate based on wireless signals that enable blockchain-powered secure authentication of electronic devices’ identities.

According to the patent application, the deployment of blockchain will be useful in the process of recording authentication signals and data, which is considered to be a primary target for hackers:

“Updates to the blockchain may comprise authentication signals or identification information, and one or more nodes on the system may be configured to incorporate one or more updates into blocks to add to the distributed database.”

Walmart has applied for a number of blockchain-related patents in the U.S. in the past year. According to Investopedia, blockchain technology enhancement is mainly being used by the retailed in order to “help Walmart keep pace with its rivals,” such as Amazon.

Recently, Walmart applied for a patent on systems and methods for managing smart appliances via blockchain. The tech would allow users to customize levels of access and control for appliances such as portable computing devices.

In mid-July, the retail giant patented the technology for a blockchain-powered delivery management system that can keep delivered items safe until their purchasers are able to sign for and collect them.

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US Customs and Border Protection to Test Blockchain Shipment Tracking System

One of the largest law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP), will launch a live test of a blockchain-based shipment tracking system, tech news and media agency GSN reports August 24.

In the upcoming test, the CBP will reportedly combine two separate systems: the CPB’s legacy application and a blockchain-powered platform developed by the agency’s parent body — and the country’s primary border control organization — the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The test results will determine how the distributed ledger technology (DLT) is able to enhance the verification process of certificates of origin from the partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central America Free Trade Agreement, as well as reduce the time-consuming procedure of the resubmission of shipping data.

While testing, the agency also intends to establish standards of interaction between different blockchains in order to ensure that all firms and software will be easily connected to customs without the need for additional customization.

Vincent Annunziato, director of CBP’s Transformation & Innovation Division, commented that at the moment various blockchain platforms are not compatible enough, stressing that ensuring data security is “of the upmost [sic] importance.”

The CBP is also reportedly developing a proof-of-concept scheme for dealing with intellectual property rights. At this point, Annunziato stressed that the successful testing of the blockchain project will enable consumers to define if a certain product is authentic or not.

According to GSN, the CBP is also now collaborating with blockchain startups such as Factom and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) on another blockchain project to combat the interception of data from sensors and cameras on the border. The project is reportedly at the stage of a six-month field test in Texas.

The DHS had previously announced that it is preparing to implement blockchain technology in securing the sharing and storage of data collected by security cameras, sensors, and internal data bases in early 2017, in a move to prevent manipulation of data and potential hacking attacks on devices operating on the borders and airports.

Earlier this month, tech giant IBM and Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk launched a joint blockchain-based shipping project, “TradeLens,” with 95 organizations involved and 154 million shipping events shipping events already captured.

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UPS Eyes Blockchain in Bid to Track Global Shipping Data

Shipping giant UPS has filed for a new patent that uses blockchain as part of a distributed system for sending packages worldwide.

The patent application, published on Aug. 16 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), further reveals the company’s interest in using blockchain to re-envision how shipments move around the world.

Entitled “Autonomous services selection system and distributed transportation database(s),” the concept involves storing numerous types of data within a distributed ledger network, including information about a package’s destination, its movement and transportation plans for shipment units.

As CoinDesk previously reported, UPS joined a transportation-focused blockchain consortium in 2017 and has even hinted at the idea of accepting bitcoin through a proposed system of item-exchange lockers.

Notably, UPS suggests using more than one distributed ledger in an effort to track a range of shipment orders, “each providing varying information/data regarding respective asset types (e.g., shipment units and/or associated shipment units).”

“Thus, certain embodiments enable tracking of a first set of shipment units and a second set of shipment units associated with the first set of shipment units separately, thereby enabling the use of various smart contracts relating to shipping services and shipment unit handling in a bifurcated manner,” the company wrote.

That the company would look at different ways to enhance the process through which it moves shipments around the world is perhaps unsurprising, given its scale. UPS shipped more than 5 billion packages and documents last year, according to its website, earning $54 billion in revenue.

Image via Shutterstock

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Blockchain Startup Develops an Uber-like App for Parcel Shipment

Triwer, a blockchain-based logistics platform, is working on an app for the parcel shipment which would automatically plan the best delivery route. According to the company’s website, the app is currently under beta testing and will be available for download in Q2 2018.

Smart contracts and shared space capacity

“Triwer has built in a number of unique selling points which we believe will make Triwer an industry online standard in much the same way as Uber in the private taxi sector or AirBnB in short term property rentals”, Triwer’s white paper says.

The core idea of the Triwer App is that it will automatically select the most appropriate and best value delivery route, including multi-carrier options by means of a multi-party smart contract. In particular, such a smart contract may include insurance and will be recorded on the main blockchain but with constituent parts, processes and obligations transferred to a sidechain.

A blockchain management platform will allow smart contracting, delivery management, tracking, escrow and payment. According to the project’s  white paper, the smart contract will unify tracking across the sidechain, as the package is booked in and out of key waypoints and transfers between carriers, until the final mile delivery is ready for dispatch through a Triwer crowd delivery driver. Upon confirmation of receipt the contract is concluded, the completion is recorded on the main blockchain, and payment distributed to each constituent of the contract.

One of the project’s features is sharing spare capacity and using resources that are already making a similar journey and improving efficiency. According to Triwer team, that scheme will reduce emission on duplicated journeys, and eventually will have significant effect on traffic congestion.

Sales will focus on signing up small to medium sized e-commerce sites and attracting their customers to install the Triwer app through various promotions and incentives in order to channel deliveries through the Triwer network, says the white paper.

Conquering the market

According to the project’s white paper, Triwer aims to take a significant share of the European courier express and parcel market through acceptance of its automated DLT (distributed leger technology) platform and TRW token.

“All transactions with the main or side blockchain must be electronic and hence Triwer’s encrypted electronic token the TRW will be the operating currency across the platform”, says the text of the paper. Triwer will organize wallets for all main counter-parties and stakeholders.

The app will also incorporate an automated exchange application, such as ‘Coinify’, that automatically transfers fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies into TRW to transact along the smart contract.

Triwer has launched its crowdfunding campaign on June 1, 2018. The public token sale will remain open until June 30, 2018. The soft cap is $5 mln, and the hard cap is $25 mln. 1 TRW coin equals to $0.08. A bonus is also available under the bounty campaign.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Walmart Patent Envisions Blockchain-Powered Delivery Fleets

Automated delivery cars or trucks connected via blockchain could one day deliver packages for Walmart, new patent filings suggest.

The retail giant hinted at the possible use case in an application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) back in October and published Thursday. Per the documents, the patent centers around technology tools to secure “restricted access areas” at a customer’s home that would receive packages from the autonomous ground vehicles (AVGs), as Wal-mart calls them.

Much of the application itself doesn’t mention the technology, but at one point, Walmart mentions how blockchain could serve as part of a solution for “authentication-based access and encryption” that would allow the vehicles to access those restricted areas. Additionally, that distributed network could serve as a way to track and authenticate the goods themselves.

As the application explains:

“When a customer interacts with a product, the customer is permitted to do so via a private or public authentication key. In response, new blocks may be added to subsequent root blocks, which will contain information relating to the date and time a product delivered by the AGV was accessed, as well as the authentication key that accessed the product.”

Walmart wrote in the application that its proposed system could “increase customer loyalty” due to the “significant convenience” it would provide. Likewise, it added that the system would likely cut costs because of its automated nature – at the expense of delivery drivers who might otherwise serve in that capacity, however.

Indeed, the application further cements the impression that Wal-Mart is looking at blockchain as a possible tool for improving the automation of its services. As CoinDesk reported in March, the retailer – which is separately researching blockchain as a means to track food shipments – filed a patent application aimed at creating a “smart” courier system.

Walmart trailers image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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US Commodities Regulator Proposes Definition for Cryptocurrency 'Delivery'

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has published a proposed interpretation of how it will deem that a cryptocurrency has been “delivered” from a buyer to a seller.

The agency – which more than two years ago announced that it would regulate bitcoin as a kind of commodity – gave two examples today of how a cryptocurrency would be considered “delivered” in the context of its rules.

As late as October, the agency said that it was still weighing the issue in light of the prevailing lack of clarity since 2015, and the process was perhaps triggered in part after a $75,000 fine was issued to digital currency exchange Bitfinex and the subsequent petition from U.S. law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP calling for a more concrete definition.

Now, the CFTC is taking the first steps toward publicly clarifying how it would define a “delivery,” which the agency said back in October was a complex issue given the wholly digital nature of cryptocurrencies.

According to the CFTC, the two factors which determine that a delivery has taken place are:

“(1) a customer having the ability to: (i) take possession and control of the entire quantity of the commodity, whether it was purchased on margin, or using leverage, or any other financing arrangement, and (ii) use it freely in commerce (both within and away from any particular platform) no later than 28 days from the date of the transaction; and

(2) the offeror and counterparty seller (including any of their respective affiliates or other persons acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty seller on a similar basis) not retaining any interest in or control over any of the commodity purchased on margin, leverage, or other financing arrangement at the expiration of 28 days from the date of the transaction.”

Per the CFTC, the proposed interpretation isn’t final and is subject to a 90-day public comment period (which begins when the interpretation is formally published in the Federal Register.

 Bitcoin and dollar image via Shutterstock

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