Amazon’s Plans For Delivery Drones
Amazon said it was ready to start commercial drone deliveries as soon as regulations were in place - details about how Amazon's proposed delivery drones may work have now been published by the US Patent Office.
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A patent granted to Amazon reveals its plans for delivery drones, the BBC reports.
Filed in September last year and granted at the end of the last month, US Patent No. 20150120094 relates to the use of “an unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) configured to autonomously deliver items of inventory to various destinations.”
The patent seems to fit well with what we already know of Amazon’s drone intentions. The UAVs may be able to deliver to a variety of locations, and may even follow customers using GPS to deliver to them no matter where they are.
When Amazon announced it planned to deliver good with drones in December 2013, the news was treated with some skepticism, but since then it has pushed ahead with trials.
Much of its testing has been carried out in the United Kingdom in Cambridge, due to restrictions on the use of UAVs in the United States (although the company was granted a license to conduct US trials by the FAA last month).
- The delivery drones can talk to each other relay important details like weather conditions and help with route planning.
- Drones will autonomously plan safe(r) routes when possible - “for example, if the UAV’s route must cross over a road… the navigation of the route may be adjusted to minimise the intersection between the UAV’s path and the road.”
- The drones “may constantly monitor for humans or other animals that may be in the path or planned path of the UAV and modify the navigation of the UAV to avoid” them.
- Though the UAV’s will operate autonomously, pilots may be used to help land the devices. This landing data can then be saved to to fully automate the delivery next time.
- The customer may be able to select a variety of delivery options, such as home work or “my boat.”
A diagram accompanying the patent showing possible drone delivery options
- The drone will be able to deliver the purchased goods directly to the customer wherever they are, by using their current GPS location. The drone could then follow them using this GPS data so it is able to find them and deliver the item, even if they change locations.
- Depending on the package being delivered, the drones may be a variety of sizes. And they won’t be restricted to the standard 4-blade quadcopter model - some “may include fixed wings and/or a combination of both propellers and fixed wings.”
It’s worth noting that being granted a patent doesn’t necessarily mean that company will follow through the plans. Many companies - notably Apple - file thousands of patents a year that are never used. These can be purely precautionary, or intended to tie up competitors in distracting litigation.
Source: Business Insider