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Amazon’s Vision of Drone Deliveries Now Involves Parachutes

16 February 2017

From MIT Technology Review:

What goes up, must … then drop a parcel from a great height.

That’s apparently what engineers at Amazon think could happen with its much-touted delivery drones. While the e-commerce giant has already delivered packages to paying customers in the U.K. using its aircraft, it did so by landing in a large patch of open ground. Now, in a patent, it has outlined how it could drop packages from the air instead.

The patent describes a way to reliably eject a payload from a drone in midflight. Usually, such a drop would see the package descend along a parabolic arc, caused by the forward motion of the aircraft—but that might not jive too well with the neighbors. Instead, Amazon’s idea is to apply a force as the package leaves the drone to have it descend vertically.

It also suggests that the package container could have some simple built-in method of correcting its descent. It may, for instance, feature aileron-like flaps that can tweak its course, with instructions relayed wirelessly from the drone above.

Link to the rest at MIT Technology Review and thanks to Lacy and others for the tip.

PG reminds visitors to TPV that most patents never result in any actual products or services, but watching Amazon boxes descending from the sky around Casa PG is an interesting thought.


11 Comments to “Amazon’s Vision of Drone Deliveries Now Involves Parachutes”

  1. I can see the European TV ads now, hundreds of drones lifting off from England, flying in formation, heading to France. Google and Apple drones dropping after dogfights. Amazon trucks and people marching in unison. A glorious day to die…err, deliver.


    • I can see the European TV ads now, hundreds of drones lifting off from England, flying in formation, heading to France.


      I got an image of the Normandy drop from Day of Days but with paratroopers replaced by Amazon packages. I suppose given the French gov’t’s antipathy to Amazon that they may order L’Armée de Terre to deploy AAA against the invasion.

  2. And the image I got was of me, dressed for writing (read that as: not very), running down the street chasing my box of MP3 recorder and English biscuits, bee-hind showing to one and all. I’d be passing some poor other schmuck in a walker, chasing his box of Depends in the other direction.

    (I could write that story. 😀 )

  3. I live next to a river, have large trees, and right now my yard is waist-deep in snow. I can not picture any way that throwing boxes at my house would be successful. And this is taking into consideration the idiot FedEx guy who hides my packages in a different random spot every delivery. At least he has never made me climb a tree.

  4. All it would take is one instance of a package striking and injuring a person on the ground to scuttle the whole operation.

    • I considered that as well. And there are idiots who would deliberately run out to be struck, hopeful of getting a fat insurance payout.

      You also have the problem of failures. A malfunctioning drone that breaks a window, scratches a car, or simply lands on a roof and has to be removed, that all costs money.

      Drones are “hot” now, but as far as I’m concerned the whole “drone delivery system” is a PR stunt.

  5. I’m seeing a gang of package thieves driving around, watching for random sky deliveries, and snatching the boxes as they land. In fact, I wonder how much of a problem that will be with ordinary (!) drone delivery? A lot of people are at work when boxes are left.

  6. Okay, so I’ll be the first to post about The Hunger Games and how the sponsor’s gift arrived via small ‘chute…

    May the odds forever be in your favor…

  7. Imagine the insurance premiums! Bonked on the head by a carefully wrapped delivery of milk…

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