The patent application, published on Aug. 16 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), further reveals the company’s interest in using blockchain to re-envision how shipments move around the world.
Entitled “Autonomous services selection system and distributed transportation database(s),” the concept involves storing numerous types of data within a distributed ledger network, including information about a package’s destination, its movement and transportation plans for shipment units.
UPS joined a transportation-focused blockchain consortium in 2017 and has even hinted at the idea of accepting bitcoin through a proposed system of item-exchange lockers.
Notably, UPS suggests using more than one distributed ledger in an effort to track a range of shipment orders, “each providing varying information/data regarding respective asset types (e.g., shipment units and/or associated shipment units).”
“Thus, certain embodiments enable tracking of a first set of shipment units and a second set of shipment units associated with the first set of shipment units separately, thereby enabling the use of various smart contracts relating to shipping services and shipment unit handling in a bifurcated manner,” the company wrote.
That the company would look at different ways to enhance the process through which it moves shipments around the world is perhaps unsurprising, given its scale. UPS shipped more than 5 billion packages and documents last year, according to its website, earning $54 billion in revenue.