Drones

Amazon working on drones that will deliver items to wherever you are

Amazon working on drones that ...
Amazon's Bring it to Me service aims to delivery packages by drone to users by tracking their locations via smartphone (Image:  Shutterstock)
Amazon's Bring it to Me service aims to delivery packages by drone to users by tracking their locations via smartphone (Image:  Shutterstock)
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Amazon's Bring it to Me service aims to delivery packages by drone to users by tracking their locations via smartphone (Image:  Shutterstock)
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Amazon's Bring it to Me service aims to delivery packages by drone to users by tracking their locations via smartphone (Image:  Shutterstock)

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.

"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

8 comments
Len Simpson
air traffic control impossible congestion will be rife collisions will ensue
Charles S Roscoe
Bad Idea that puts children playing outdoors in danger. But if it helps get get crap delivered cheaper, whats a few lives or maimed kids?
MichaelD.Brady
Hmm... "I wonder what that drone is delivering to Billy's house? Think I will shoot it down with my paint ball gun and find out. Maybe I'll end up wit' a new PS4!" Why would so many smart people think this is actually a good idea...? If delivering packages one at at time was economical I don't know why FedEx, UPS, DHL all choose to do it via trucks with assigned routes and territories. But... as long as this is all done w/o tax payer money more power to them.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Once, we had a helicopter deliver the world's most expensive detector to the NOSC sea tower in Mission Bay.
JaxCavalera
Could work well provided : 1.) Improved power stability 2.) This isn't another step to have drones monitoring society 24/7 without our consent. 3) The noise pollution is resolved.. currently drones make a hell of a loud noise and imagine a constant buzz in the air if you live near a depot. I think that more work needs to be put into developing improved battery capacity, more efficient solar panels and Ionic Thrusters that are even more efficient as that's the only feasible way this will really take off properly. There are other minor issues too but off the top of my head those are 3 issues that will stop this dead in its tracks considering deliveries require travelling distance.. and that means the vehicle needs the potential to travel the distance carrying load to make it worth while.
DeanVincent
@Len: Obviously there will be clear no-fly zones around areas such as airports. There would also likely be a limited range of altitudes in which the drones will be allowed to operate (eg: must fly between 200-250 feet except when above the depot or the delivery address). Various companies (Google, Tesla, Mercedes, BMW) are building autonomous cars and it wouldn't be much of a stretch to transfer that technology to drone flight. It wouldn't be difficult to have a drone detect that it was on a collision course and then alter its bearing and/or altitude. @Charles: SmartChutes have already been developed which automatically deploy when the drone enters free-fall or tilts at an unacceptable angle. And sure it's possible that both the drone and the chute will fail, but it's also possible that a passenger jet will fall out of the sky onto a city. In both cases, there are numerous technologies working to absolutely minimize the chance of that happening. @Michael: Displaying goods on a shelf in a physical store also makes them available to theft. And so does having a regular courier leave a package at your neighbour's house. Good luck with your court case.
Towerman
"The noise pollution is resolved.. currently drones make a hell of a loud noise and imagine a constant buzz in the air if you live near a depot." I disagree, a boeing thundering past is 100 time louder, you even feel the ground shake ! Not to mention traffic noise where people drive cars that makes more sound compared to the speed it's driving !
Towerman
"Bad Idea that puts children playing outdoors in danger. " o please, so how many children will perish if a boeing falls in a city ? "Hmm... "I wonder what that drone is delivering to Billy's house? Think I will shoot it down with my paint ball gun and find out." This argument has been beaten to smithereens, First You will not know when it's coming, you will only hear it for an odd 30 seconds when it does arrive, and by the time you have your paintball gun ready, except if you're hanging onto tree branch anxiosly waiting 24/7 to shoot one down, Billy will be standing next to his package frowning upon you pointing a paintball gun...