We know Amazon is heavily investing in a near future where drones can be used to deliver packages. In a recent patent filing we discussed here, it appears Amazon is strongly considering creating a network of mobile merchandise and maintenance facilities utilizing trains, tractor trailer trucks, and boats to keep their drones powered up and in the air. The mobile merchandise side of this idea, allows Amazon to bring products closer to customers so the drones have shorter delivery routes too. Now another patent has been filed that may make things more efficient for drones too.
When I first glanced at the patent diagram my immediate thought was the drone (referred to in the patent as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)), was going to drop packages that had springs on the bottom to cushion their fall. But actually, it is not a spring but a set of four accordion-like retractable tubes that would attach to the bottom of a quadcopter drone. The idea of the patent according to the DailyMail, which first spotted the patent, is that a package would be dropped into one of the 4 accordion tubes. The tubes rings help the package slide through carefully and slowly to the target drop-off point such as a porch. Optionally this approach might be used only when conditions aren’t optimal for landing. The tubes would also act as a muffler to drown out some of the drones buzzing sound too. After the delivery is completed, the drone would retract the tubes and fly away.
Here is a video and description of Amazon Prime Air delivering their first package in a drone trial in England:
Video transcript below:
Amazon is developing a service to use
drones to safely deliver packages to
customers in 30 minutes or less.
It’s called Prime Air.
We’ve started a new private trial for customers in the
Cambridge area of England, and on December 7th
we completed our first delivery!
Customers will choose from a selection of
thousands of items, tucked away in a
Prime Air fulfillment center located
just over the horizon from their homes.
We’ve been operating fulfillment centers
for quite a while now, but this one is
unlike all the rest. These modest looking
buildings contain innovative Prime Air technology.
Here’s how it works. Moments after
receiving the order an
electrically-powered Amazon drone
makes its way down an automated track
and then rises into the sky with the
customer’s package on board.
These drones are autonomous –
from take-off, to landing, and return,
they operate completely on their own.
Cruising quietly below 400ft,
carrying packages up to 5lbs,
and guided by GPS, our systems are
designed to find their destinations safely.
Within 30 minutes of placing the order,
the customer receives their package.
For this initial trial, customers
can choose from the latest tech gadgets,
to their dog’s favorite biscuits.
We will use the data gathered during this beta test,
and the feedback provided by customers,
to expand the private trial
to more customers over time.
We’re starting with two customers now,
and in the coming months, will offer participation to
CEO & Founder at Team Hardware Venezuela, passionate tech blogger and extraordinaire web developer and technical adviser, with a background as a SEO consultant, graduated with a major on Electronics Engineering he decided to walk a different path as a Front End Developer, he has been working with large enterprise companies developing interfaces for their products in the mobile market, product maketing strategies and project management. He is a guest writter here at Hitechs.