It was almost two years ago to the day when Amazon released a cheeky video detailing its plans to conquer the skies with a fleet of package-delivering drones. We’re still waiting for these unmanned aircraft to replace standard trucks and delivery personnel, but it’s clear Amazon hasn’t abandoned the idea. Earlier this week, Amazon was granted a patent for technology that could enable its future drones, in the event of an emergency, to self-destruct in order to protect people on the ground.
The idea is that if a drone is already on its way down, “direct fragmentation for unmanned vehicles” would allow the drone to break up into multiple, lighter pieces that would hit the ground more safely than a single, heavier object.
Additional details in the patent’s abstract describes fragmentation and flight controllers that would analyze the path of the falling drone while systematically using explosive force to dismantle the drone in mid-air based on conditions such as terrain, flight conditions, and others.
As wild as this might sound, you still have to remember it’s only one among a number of crazy-sounding Amazon ideas, including flying drone warehouses carried by blimps and towering drone skyscrapers.
But it seems like Amazon’s filing has excluded one major thing: Yes, the drone could explode, but what about the package it was carrying? Even if the drone itself explodes into a million pieces, people would still have to look out for the thing the drone was delivering. Never mind, Amazon seems to have thought of that, too—parachutes? I guess it’s only a matter of time until our drone overlords arrive.