Amazon wants an army of drones to chase you down to get you your package
Up to now, Amazon’s drone plans have suggested they would arrive at your doorstep, dropping off packages like a smaller, louder mailman. But Amazon’s application suggests the company is exploring ways to have its drones come directly to wherever your smartphone is.
The application outlines a process whereby an Amazon customer orders something small—a book, perhaps, or maybe a box of Tide—via the Amazon app and selects the “Bring It To Me” delivery option. The nearest drone delivery system hopper would then saddle the drone with the order and deploy it to the location of the customer’s smartphone.
Once within range, the drone then will perform a controlled landing by somehow using the camera function of the customer’s smartphone to navigate a path from the sky to the ground. Exactly how is a little unclear, though the patent notes that the customer could theoretically land the drone herself. Presumably, though, the customer would have to make sure their phone was somewhere safe, in case the drone had to make a hard landing.
There are still a few hurdles that Amazon will have to clear before drones whiz through the skies bearing urgent deliveries of paperbacks and gluten-free pasta. There’s no guarantee that the US authorities will approve the patent, nor that Amazon will end up implement the technology if it does. The company is also still hoping for approval from the US’s aviation administration and other countries’ regulators for use of a drone program that wouldn’t require Amazon to keep drones within the line of sight of human operators. (Unlike the drones of its proposed delivery service, Amazon’s comment on its plans did not materialize immediately upon request.)