The United States Patent Office has published further details on the Amazon Prime Air delivery service, which gives specifics on how the drones would work.
According to the document, the parcel delivery drones will be able to detect and lock onto a signal from the smartphone of the person who is expecting the delivery, and travel to their exact location to deliver. The drones will also be able to communicate with each other about traffic or weather conditions that may result in a delay in their journey.
Amazon haven’t had an easy time in the past when it came to putting their ambitious drone plans into action. The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) have been reluctant to allow the delivery giant to test their delivery drones for commercial use, causing Amazon to take their tests across the border to Canada, where permission was granted.
But last month, Amazon received approval from the FAA to go ahead and conduct outdoor tests of the drones. However, there are rules, the drones must not rise above an altitude of 400ft and must travel no faster than 100mph during the tests, and must be within sight of the controller at all times.
One of the concerns was that the drones lack the ability to react to obstacles, such as buildings or people, which could result in damage or injury. However, Amazon appear to have been working on this problem, with the recently released patent stating: “If it is determined that the navigation path and/or failure path intersects with a human and/or other animals, roads, walkways, etc., the navigation path may be altered to avoid the humans, animals, roads, walkways, etc.”
To avoid missed deliveries, users will be able to select exactly where their package will be delivered to, thanks to a feature called “Bring To Me”. The recipient could select exactly where they want the package to be delivered to, such as at work or a friend’s house, but the drones will apparently be able to lock onto the user’s smartphone GPS signal and track them until the parcel is delivered. The patent states that “the location of the user may be maintained and updated until the item is delivered to the user”.
The possibility of drones delivering their packages may still seem like science fiction to some people, but Amazon are committed to moving forwards with the project, stating that they hope to “safely get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less”.
Robert Mead, Marketing Manager at Parcel2Go.com, believes the Amazon Drone project highlights a continued focus on customer service: “In today’s modern world, customers don’t want to wait long for their deliveries. Now more than ever, great customer service and a speedy delivery from couriers are essential and, whilst we wait for Amazon Air to become a reality, companies must choose the right courier service for them to ensure they offer their customers the very best every time.”