Drone deliveries hey? What could be more convenient than having the milk for your cereal arrive fresh each morning, or that forgotten dinner ingredient plonked down on the doorstep just as you fire up the stove? Well, details now revealed in an Amazon patent application suggest that if its Prime Air drones do materialize, they mightn't just be limited to making house calls. The application outlines plans for drones that track a customer's GPS position, flagging the possibility of having items brought to you even when you're out and about.
Stuck in a traffic jam and in need of a snack? Out boating on the lake and out of refreshments? Amazon's "Bring it to Me" delivery option may one day come to rescue. This feature was one of a number of finer details revealed in the patent filed last September and now made public by the US Patent & Trademark Office.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
"With the implementations described herein, a user now has the ability to choose "Bring It To Me," the patent states. "With this option, the actual location of the user is determined and the UAV delivers the item to the current location of the user... For example, the user may identify their current location by allowing Global Positioning System ("GPS") data to be provided by their mobile device."
In addition, the application describes a communications network between the drones in Amazon's fleet, intended to relay data between the vehicles to assist with route planning. This information might pertain to weather, air traffic and landing conditions and could be shared dynamically with nearby drones and a central location.
It is also possible that more than one drone will take part in the delivery of a single item. A package may be picked up from the warehouse and dropped off at a relay location by one drone, and then retrieved and the delivery completed by another.
Amazon announced its Prime Air delivery service in 2013, drawing mixed responses from the public, with many less than convinced of the service's real-world feasibility. Delivering packages by tracking customer's smartphones may only do more to engender this widely held skepticism, but all signs coming out of Amazon in the last year suggest it is pretty serious about one day rolling out the service.
Since the initial announcement, Amazon has grappled with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in an effort to fast track its testing. Slow progress has moved the company to test the drones just north of the Canadian border, while continuing to lobby the authorities to accommodate its needs inside the US.
Source: US Patent & Trademark Office