Amazon Prime Air could utilize parachutes integrated into shipping labels

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In February 2017, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared details of the company’s plans to ship products via drone, a service that’s been dubbed Prime Air. Now, a newly awarded patent has offered up some extra information on how this new delivery process will work in practice.

On Monday, Amazon was awarded a patent for a shipping label with a built-in parachute, according to a report from GeekWire. This innovative idea would allow drones to deliver packages without having to land, with the package falling to the ground safely thanks to the parachute, making the delivery process much more efficient.

The shipping label wouldn’t look out of the ordinary until called into action, but a system of cords, a breakaway cover, and the all-important parachute would be hidden away under the surface. The patent also mentions that extra components like a harness to keep things in place, sensors to make sure it lands in the correct spot, and a shock absorber to prevent rough landings could also be employed.

The parachutes themselves would be tailored to the product at hand, keeping with the various packaging options that Amazon currently employs for different products. When larger items are being delivered, more than one parachute could be employed at one time, based on drawings that the company submitted to the United States Patent Office.

Amazon has been researching drone delivery for years — this patent was submitted in 2015 — but it seems that the idea is finally starting to become a reality. With this patent in place, and real-world testing already underway, it’s perhaps only a matter of time before customers waiting on a package look to the skies in anticipation, rather than waiting for the mailman.

Of course, Prime Air isn’t likely to replace Amazon’s other means of delivery completely, at least not yet. The patent application suggests that, while these new shipping labels might someday be applied to every package being dispatched, they’ll be easy enough to remove should ground shipping prove to be a more appropriate option.