Online retailer Amazon has disclosed full details of a concept for delivering packages with unmanned air vehicles in a US patent application published on 30 April.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos first announced plans to deliver packages with small octorotor UAVs in a 2013 interview with 60 Minutes, but the company had kept silent on how the package delivery concept would work.
But newly-published patent application – titled “unmanned air vehicle delivery system" – describes a complete system with a customer interface, route planning, inventory tracking, in-flight navigation and completing delivery.
The concept anticipates that a “remote entity” would control the UAV at the delivery point to select a safe landing site. That information would be stored and used to make future deliveries automatically, the application says.
As the aircraft navigates to the delivery site, Amazon envisions making adjustments to the route in real-time. Some would be driven through communications with other UAVs in the same area, which would provide updates on weather and ground traffic.
The UAV also would monitor the ground to avoid flying over people and animals, according to the Amazon concept. The flying delivery vehicles may have to pass over roads with moving ground vehicles, but Amazon’s plan is to minimise the overflight time by only crossing over roads at a perpendicular angle.