Walmart recently filed a patent for drones to aid their shoppers inside their stores –that is, a shopper would use a mobile device, provided by the store, to request a drone, and then direct the drone to conduct a price verification of a product or  to guide the customer to a particular product through the use of a visual projection or audio output. The patent application states, “If, for example, the [customer] has requested navigation assistance to an item selected from a virtual shopping list on the mobile electronic device, the computing device can control the aerial drone to provide navigation assistance to guide the user to the location of the selected item.”

This comes after Walmart’s recent roll-out of its shelf-scanning robots in some of its stores in Pennsylvania, California, and Arkansas (soon to be up to 50 of its stores). Those robots can quickly move down an aisle and check inventory by scanning shelves along their path, and locating misplaced, mislabeled and mispriced items (the information is then passed along to stock-shelving employees who will correct the mistakes).

Of course, this in-store drone service is still customer service of the future, but likely not too far away.