Amazon’s delivery drones may use parachutes to drop packages in your yard

amazon prime air delivery drones history progress amazons first drone
Amazon has been working on the design of its delivery drone for several years now as it continues its bid to launch a regular service for customers living close to its fulfillment centers.

At the end of last year the company trumpeted the completion of its very first drone delivery in the United Kingdom. This was a significant milestone, for sure, though strict regulations — similar to those in the U.S. — mean the service is currently limited to only a few customers and is unlikely to be rolled out more widely anytime soon.

One of the challenges continuing to occupy engineers is how to drop off the packages safely. The current design of Amazon’s Prime Air delivery drone sees it landing on the ground and automatically plopping out the ordered item from a compartment. However, in urban areas, with their myriad of obstacles, such a delivery method may prove more difficult, and could also expose the flying machine to additional risks such as excited pets or even ne’er-do-wells looking to intercept deliveries as the drone nears its destination.

Amazon’s drone team has evidently been exploring different ways of dropping off ordered goods, with a recently granted patent focusing on landing guidance systems such as parachutes, compressed air, and landing flaps. Put simply, the drone would assess the landing site from up high before releasing the package from the optimum position. With the package headed presumably for someone’s yard, the drone would monitor its descent. If a sudden breeze kicked up, the drone could send a signal to technology on the package to deploy one of the aforementioned systems in order to steady the consignment, or steer it to its precise landing point if it begins to veer off course.

amazon delivery drone parachutes parachute patent

With all the extra kit involved, it sounds like a costly solution, though the concept may ultimately lead to a refined, more efficient method along similar lines. Yes, this is just a patent, so it’s far from certain that Amazon will be parachuting products into people’s yards anytime soon. Or possibly ever.

It should be noted that Amazon has patented a range of ideas for its drone technology, some wackier than others. One idea is to turn church steeples and the top of street lights into docking stations so the machine can recharge and therefore fly greater distances to customer addresses, while another proposed a seemingly off-the-wall idea involving an “airborne fulfillment center” — effectively a flying warehouse suspended from a blimp — that its drones could also use as a base.

Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Smart Home

Amazon’s Whole Foods raises hundreds of prices, from ice cream to soap

Whole Foods Market raised prices on hundreds of items, citing higher ingredient, packaging, and transportation costs. When Amazon bought Whole Foods, the promise of lower prices attracted customers; that glow may diminish with price bumps.
Smart Home

Amazon to add home mesh router maker Eero to its smart home ecosystem

Amazon will acquire the Eero mesh Wi-Fi router system brand. After the deal clears regulatory hurdles, Amazon will own another piece of a complete smart home package. Eero's Wi-Fi infrastructure covers the whole house with fast internet.
Product Review

SVS's stunning Prime speakers go wireless with (mostly) brilliant results

The latest offering from SVS is a wireless way to enjoy the company’s incredible sound. While they do come with a few caveats, those looking for gorgeous sound in a stunning package will want to give them a long look.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.