Get ready to grovel for your next shipment of toilet paper. A recently published Amazon patent depicts a delivery drone capable of recognizing and responding to human gestures and speech, which means you may want to practice the art of supplication to ensure proper delivery of that two-ply to your front porch.
The patent, filed in July 2016 and published on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent Office, features an illustration of a drone, a home, and a man stupidly flailing his arms. The distressed character is accompanied by a blank speech bubble, presumably containing the phrase necessary to appease the drone and receive his package undamaged. There’s also an illustration of a drone featuring an array of potential sensors like speakers, microphones, cameras, laser projectors, and other devices intended for communication.
Amazon’s patent suggests a future where its delivery drones, after launching from a delivery truck, would navigate to your home using visual cues, voice commands, and gestures from humans to establish and maintain its flight path. Humans could wave the drone away, tell it to deliver something next door, or perhaps instruct it to leave before you shoot it out of the sky. It could also potentially verify the identity of the delivery recipient via an app, speech recognition, or a remote operator communicating with the recipient.
The described delivery drone could also remember its interactions with humans during deliveries, and potentially add new gestures to its database and improve its gesture-recognition accuracy. From the patent: “In some examples, when in the learning context, a human operator may interact with the UAV in order to ‘teach’ the UAV how to react given certain gestures, circumstances, and the like.” Granted, the instruction of a delivery drone may just occur in an Amazon-owned facility, but still, that’s kinda creepy, conceptually.
Companies often file patents for products and features that never see the light of day. Amazon, however, is actually testing delivery via drone, and has filed drone-related patents ranging from self-destructing unmanned vehicles to blimps filled to the brim with the flying machines.
Also, does this mean Amazon’s future drones could recognize when I give them the finger? Sorry, Jeff.
We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment.