Amazon Prime Air’s delivery drones may not be landing in your back garden at all…
One of the many challenges of making deliveries by drone is the problem of actually landing the package while negotiating hazards like cars, trees, people and dogs. A new patent granted to Amazon indicates that they may have found a way to work around the problem for their Amazon Prime Air programme – by not landing at all, but instead dropping the package by parachute.
Releasing the package while the drone is in mid-flight will reportedly save time and energy for the units, presumably extending their range, and will simultaneously minimize the potential threat of collisions. Perhaps most importantly though, the drone will observe the descent of the package to ensure that it lands in the right spot – suggesting that if it misses its target, it would be able to retrieve and re-place the package.
In other news, Amazon’s 2014 patent for a hybrid design, incorporating a folding-wing, was recently published. The design illustrated in the patent seems to differ markedly from the Amazon Prime Air units seen in the company’s promotional material, though. The patent outlines a design with fixed blades on one side of the craft; during takeoff, these blades lift the unit vertically, like a quadcopter, before a tail flips out of its base and the device tilts down to bring the blades to its front, using them to propel it forward on the horizontal plane.
The filing illustrates several different designs incorporating folding wings. However, it seems that the final design seen in Amazon’s trailers uses a fixed structure with both horizontal and vertically aligned blades.
— Amazon Echo (@amazonecho) February 6, 2017
Meanwhile a jokey Superbowl ad had a US customer ordering Doritos from their Amazon Echo – only for a drone to emerge outside the window moments later. As they say, not currently available in any states.