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‘Robot Bees.’ How Walmart Wants to Use Drones on Future High-Tech Farms

Looks like Walmart (WMT) might have its sights set on moving beyond grocery delivery.

Now the retail giant is getting involved in the supply side of goods, applying for six patents over the last year that involve farm automation. The patents include one that seeks to prevent crop damage, another that controls pests, and one that would facilitate cross-pollination.

Many of these patents heavily rely on drone technology for their application. One would employ a drone to shoot pesticides in a targeted manner rather than the typical pesticide cloud. Another is a “robot bee,” technically a pollination drone, that they hope could one day mimic the way real bees pollinate crops.

With groceries already comprising 56% of Walmart’s revenue, the use of these advanced technologies could further reduce costs and allow the retailer to get goods to the consumer quicker than before.

This is not Walmart’s first foray into drone technology. The retailer has applied for 46 patents using drones, but the majority of these have focused on delivery, logistics, and warehouse inventory.