Amazon’s delivery drone plans may have seemed more like a media stunt than a concrete vision back when it launched, but with active testing taking place in Canada and now, new details showing up in a patent application, things are getting real. The new proposed patent for an “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Delivery System” (via BBC) contains some impressive revelations about Amazon’s proposed automated package transport plans.
For instance, the system would use location information shared by a package recipient’s smartphone to be able to zero in on their position and bring deliveries directly to them, regardless of whether they happen to be at home or somewhere else. You’d also be able to specific different locations as package destinations, giving you more flexibility about where to receive things depending on your schedule or needs at the exact time of delivery.
This would be a huge step up from the current situation in terms of convenience. At best, delivery services will call me the morning a package is set to arrive to provide a heads up, and let you modify your delivery day online. Being able to tweak it while the package is en route to match up with your exact plans hour-by-hour would take a lot of the unnecessary stress and worry out of the whole process.
Amazon’s patent also includes details around how it will use sensors, cameras, radar and more to guarantee the drones can land safely, and how it will monitor its path to avoid humans and other obstructions. But the key magic here, in terms of how the system would present an improvement for consumers as well as giving Amazon benefits vs. current old-school delivery methods, is that intelligent, adaptable route-shifting.
Of course, it also means Amazon will have to take extra precautions to ensure that it’s not easy for bad actors to manipulate drone routing to intercept packages. But if it does work, and work well, custom routing alone would change the face of ecommerce and consumer delivery.