UPS Applies for Blockchain Parcel Tracking Patent

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One of the largest delivery companies in the world has filed for a blockchain patent that will solve complex logistical issues across a global supply chain. United Parcel Services (UPS) initially applied for the patent back in February, but the US patent authority recently published the application to its website. This indicates that the patent is close to receiving a decision. UPS is now in competition with Amazon, as it launched its own shipping service “Ship with Amazon” (SWA). The blockchain patent would help UPS cut time at delivery and sorting centers around the globe, making the company more efficient and therefore more attractive to potential customers.

Distributed Ledger Technology Powering Your Delivery

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is what forms the backbone of every blockchain, and it’s this DLT that powers billions of transactions per second in various cryptos. If UPS implement DLT into their parcel tracking system, it will be able to efficiently track any parcel that has entered any one of its drop-off points around the globe through to its destination. Not only will this tech help speed up the shipping process, but it will also make the parcel more secure, meaning it is less likely to be lost in transit.

Smart Contracts to Control the System

UPS will utilize smart contracts to ensure that the system runs efficiently and is as automated as possible. Interestingly, the application goes on to say that the smart contracts will be executed by a transfer of value in a different distributed ledger. This means that UPS is planning to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for the parcels. This could be taken as the smart contract that creates the order for a parcel to be delivered will be triggered upon the receipt of cryptos to the UPS wallet. This contract will then be assigned to the parcel and will close the contract once it has been signed for by the recipient. In the patent application, UPS mentioned “Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Dogecoin, and/or the like” as cryptos that it would consider using as signals for smart contracts.

New Smart Contracting Language

Axoni – a blockchain development company – has created a new programming language designed to make smart contracts flawless, and this new language could be used in the UPS smart contracts. AxLang is based on traditional contracting languages and uses similar protocols – meaning developers don’t need to learn a new language to code in it. In addition to this, it prevents bugs and flaws being written into the smart contract, essentially making them 100% secure, something UPS would need to ensure is in place in order to prevent packages from going missing in transit.
While UPS is the first delivery company to apply for a US patent, plenty of other companies have been hard at work developing blockchain technologies. The Winklevoss twins have won their seventh crypto related patent and are currently preparing their eighth. It should be noted that while patents might secure the technology behind what’s being proposed, other companies can take ideas from a patent tweak it slightly and utilize the same technology. However, in a distributed and decentralized industry, sharing tech secrets might actually make the blockchain space a safer place overall.