WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Amazons new patent could change the look of your community forever.
It looks like Amazon is finally answering a fundamental question about its long awaited delivery drones – where will they land? And a possible answer, according to a recent patent filing that they put into the US Patent Office is on your neighbourhood’s streetlights, churches and synagogues, cell towers, and other tall structures. So those objects that you say perched on the power pylons that you thought were birds? They’re drones.
Amazon was awarded the patent for these urban “docking stations” for delivery drones, which the patent notes, “may be described as a system to deliver packages, [but] it should be understood that the system may just as easily be used to delivery groceries, mail, movies, prescriptions, and other items”, late last week.
The docking station and the drone can communicate with each other to identify a suitable landing space and if the docking station was already full then the drone would simply fly over to the next nearest one. The stations would also be able to monitor weather conditions, alerting the drones to incoming weather and even offering them shelter. While Amazon’s drawings all portray lamp posts, the patent notes that they would be just as comfortable at a “church steeple”.
As Amazon expects to be delivering packages of differing weights, a scale would also be incorporated into the docking station. The drone could also download and upload data on new purchases or cancellations. A typical visit to this home away from home would include charging its battery – perhaps one day wirelessly, downloading any new information, and then going on its way. Then, further down the line Amazon, and others, could hook these stations into the blockchain in order to allow any third party drone to automatically find them, use them, charge from them and transact with them.
Amazon also suggests that the docking stations could serve their communities by offering some sort of Wi-Fi connection “without bearing the burden of installing some, or all, of the necessary infrastructure” – so maybe this is another attempt by amazon to conquer the known world!
Amazon won the right to test its drones last year, and this patent drops hints about what they might be like. The patent notes that the docking stations were built to handle small, medium, and large drones and while it’s presented as a hypothetical possibility it says a large drone could carry a payload as heavy as 500 pounds. And that’s a big drone – which will be good news for all you bowling ball and anvil enthusiasts.