Walmart has filed for six patents related to the use of drones in farming, Reuters reports.
While Walmart isn’t the first company to see the usefulness of drones in agriculture–the market for agricultural drones is expected to top $1 billion by 2024–the series of patents could mean that Walmart is looking into a future that involves a lot more farming. Some analysts told Reuters they think this could be a way for Walmart to compete with the Amazon-owned Whole Foods and appeal to a more urban, higher-income demographic that is into this sort of thing.
The patents, filed with the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office, are a fascinating glimpse into the possible future of farming. One involves drones that identify pests and deliver the appropriate pesticide, while another features a “robot bee”–a tiny drone carrying pollen that could fill in for pollinating bees. Of course, as Reuters notes, Walmart applies for dozens of patents every year and many do not result in commercial products.