Humans and technology have a bittersweet relationship with one another. One the one hand, it makes our lives more convenient. If you need to know the ingredients for homemade mac and cheese, all you have to do is speak into your phone’s web browser and you’ll have the information you need within seconds. If you come home late at night and can’t find the light switch in your dark house, there is software that allows you to turn on the lights by simply saying the words “lights on.” In this way, things that were once challenging and required a certain amount of effort are now incredibly simplistic and call for virtually no effort whatsoever – which brings us to the “bitter” part of the bittersweet relationship.
Even though most forms of technology make our lives exponentially easier, some of it is having a lasting effect on our physical health and wellbeing. To give just one simple example, the invention of elevators and escalators has resulted in fewer people using the stairs, because stairs are no longer the most effortless and convenient method of going up and down. Additionally, most supermarkets today have motorized scooters available for those who can’t walk through the aisles. Even though there are people out there who are legitimately immobile due to an injury or medical condition, there are no doubt people who use the scooters because it’s easier to pull down on a throttle then it is to walk.
Incredibly, new technology is now in the works that would allow Walmart shoppers to retrieve the items they need without even moving an inch. The Arkansas-based Corporation recently received a patent for in-store drones that would be used to transport items from one department to another, thus eliminating the need for shoppers to walk across the stores to find what they are looking for.
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“Sadly, this invention will only contribute to the sedentary lifestyles of Walmart shoppers, many of whom are already obese and diabetic,” added Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. “For far too many Americans, walking the store aisles to shop for disease-promoting processed foods is the only real form of exercise they ever get.”
The patent is officially entitled “Method to carry an item within a retail shopping facility.” Amazon is currently testing similar technology, although Walmart will be the first corporation to use drones to enhance the experience of in-store shoppers.
The delivery process would start with a customer making a request to a Walmart employee via a text message. The employee would then manually attach the item to the drone, which would then be directed to the drop off point via a central computer system. According to the patent, “The departing airborne drone can be directed to another similar task if desired, or tasked in some other regards, or directed to a staging area to await a new task and/or to recharge its on-board batteries.”
Of course, the airspace inside of Walmart facilities isn’t completely free of obstacles. Often times there are shelves and displays that tower high above the ground. This is why the in-store drones will be equipped with “one or more on-board sensors” that allows it to detect and move around obstacles on its way to an item or to a customer. It may also use GPS and 3D mapping technology to help the drone find its way around the store.
The patent also suggests that Walmart may use windows to allow the drone to fly between the store’s shopping area and the storage area that isn’t accessible to the public. “By one approach such a window 208 is at least twice the width of the wingspan of the airborne drone 212 and at least four times as high as the airborne drone,” the patent says.
Even though this idea seems like an extremely positive step in the direction of a technologically advanced future, we must also keep in mind our physical health and wellbeing, both on an individual basis and collectively as a country. Less walking and exercise could lead to obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and even certain diseases like diabetes. America could be the most advanced nation on planet earth, but if all of its citizens are overweight and unhealthy, then what is the point?