The idea of receiving your Amazon delivery from drone is fanciful. It’s a total impossibility for the foreseeable future, sure, but Amazon just scored a patent for drone delivery system anyway.
Originally filed in September 2014 the USPTO just granted Amazon a patent for an “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Delivery System,” in which UAVs are, ahem:
configured to autonomously deliver items of inventory to various destinations. The UAV may receive inventory information and a destination location and autonomously retrieve the inventory from a location within a materials handling facility, compute a route from the materials handling facility to a destination and travel to the destination to deliver the inventory.
The patent is very broad, but it basically describes a system in which a bunch of drones take items from a central facility, a warehouse, for example, to a delivery destination. The drones all talk to each other and the system and the routes from origin to destination can be changed dynamically. The recipient of the delivery—you?!?!—will be able to monitor the drones in real time.
These aren’t actual technologies yet. For example, the image at the top “depicts a block diagram of a top-down view of an unmanned aerial vehicle, according to an implementation.” Amazon details the many steps of the process, but doesn’t actually describe how it intends to go about accomplishing it. For example, it details the many stages and factors by which a drone’s flight path will be delivered.
All of which underscores that Amazon might never ever ever ever actually implement delivery drones. The patent paperwork was filed nearly a year after Amazon’s splashy drone program reveal on 60 Minutes. At the time we called it revolutionary marketing because, you know, delivery drones are technical and logistical madness, not to mention that commercial drone use is illegal right now. Although, in fairness the FAA did just relax some rules so that Amazon could test drones.
At this point it feels like Amazon is just trolling. It’s trolling us with public relations BS about its future drones, and it’s trolling future competitors—Google is also apparently working on this—so that if somebody ever somehow does anything relating to drone delivery, Amazon can sue them. If I’m wrong, I’ll deliver my apology via Airmail.