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Amazon’s drones will track you down using your smartphone

Amazon Air Prime
Image used with permission by copyright holder
We’ve known for some time that Amazon is exploring the possibility of using drones to deliver packages, but a recently published patent application sheds some new light on how the system might work. For example, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could find your location by tracking the whereabouts of your smartphone.

You wouldn’t have to be at home to receive a package any more — Amazon’s smart system could find you halfway up a mountain. As always with patent applications, bear in mind that these are just ideas that Amazon is exploring, so we don’t know for sure whether any of these features will make it into the finished drone delivery program (if it ever takes off at all).

Another one of the technologies mentioned in the patent application is a drone-to-drone communication system that lets these flying robots speak to each other about weather and traffic conditions. That would mean a drone out in the field could report details of a nasty storm back to one that’s just setting out from base.

The documentation supplied by Amazon for the patent application suggests that buyers could monitor the route of their package in real-time and choose from a selection of drop-off points: If you don’t want the order brought straight to you, you could have it left in your back garden instead.

It looks like Amazon is planning to use a variety of different drone designs as well. The right UAV for the task will be chosen based on the size of the package, the distance the drone needs to travel, and the amount of power and fuel it’s going to need to get there. Radar, sonar, infrared cameras, and various other sensors are going to be used to find safe landing spots.

It’s an interesting look into the future but don’t bank on Prime Air rolling out in the near future — there are plenty of technological and regulatory hurdles to overcome first.


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David Nield
Dave is a freelance journalist from Manchester in the north-west of England. He's been writing about technology since the…
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