Delivering packages wherever you want it, through the air, via drone in just 30 minutes – that’s Amazon’s vision and the company just made another step forward.
On the heels of getting FAA permission for experimental test flights in the United States in March, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has published Amazon’s patent application for its drone delivery system.
The patent application reveals new details on just how this delivery by drone would work.
For starters, Amazon is thinking beyond home delivery. They’re thinking delivery to wherever you are at the moment.
The patent application describes a customer option called “Bring It To Me.” With this option, using GPS data from the consumer’s mobile device, the drone locates and delivers the item to that location. Once the customer places the order he or she does not have to remain in one place.
The patent application describes one instance where the user places an order while at home, selects to have the item delivered to their current location (delivery within 30 minutes of the order) and then leaves to go to their friend’s house, which is three blocks away from their home.
“As the ordered item is retrieved from inventory, the current location of the user’s mobile device may be determined and the delivery location correspondingly updated. As such, the ordered item will be delivered to the user while the user is at their friend’s house, or any other location.”
But deliveries aren’t just restricted to homes. There’s even mention of drone deliveries to boats.
Amazon’s vision for how it would safely operate is also detailed.
The drone would plot its navigational route based in part on information from other drones in the air, much like how commercial aircraft operate.
Other drones “may provide information regarding weather (e.g., wind, snow, rain), landing conditions, traffic, etc. The UAV(unmanned aerial vehicle or drone) may utilize this information to plan the route from the source location to the delivery location.”
If the drone must cross over a busy highway, interstate or roadway, “the navigation of the route may be adjusted to minimize the intersection between the UAV’s path and the road.”
The drone would also constantly monitor for humans or animals that may be in its path or planned path. The drone would be able to change its path ” to avoid those humans or other animals.”
“When the UAV reaches the delivery location, it will identify an area at the delivery location where it can safely approach the ground, or another surface, and leave the inventory item, thereby completing the delivery. This may be done through assistance of a remote entity controller taking control of and/or providing control instructions to the UAV to assist the UAV in landing at the delivery location. “
CNN has reached out to Amazon but has not received comment as yet.
The FAA terms of the experimental testing permit it granted to Amazon states the company must abide by specific operation rules: Drones can only be flown at 400 feet or below during the day in clear weather conditions, and must remain in the line-of-sight of their operators, who must hold at least a private pilot’s certificate and medical certification.
While testing at designated sites is underway there’s still a ways to go before regulators fully open the skies for commercial use.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify the Amazon patent application is now public, but remains pending.