Amazon Prime Air exploring drone delivery by parachute
Amazon Prime Air exploring drone delivery by parachute

Amazon Prime Air exploring drone delivery by parachute

Global e-commerce company Amazon has been granted a patent that will allow it to deliver packages into consumer’s homes via parachute, according to CNN.

The patent, which was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, suggests that Amazon’s drones could hover high above consumer’s homes, and use magnets, parachutes or spring coils to release packages to the ground.

Once released, the drone would monitor the package to ensure it lands safely and in the correct location.

While the patent is just an idea at present, it indicates that Amazon is exploring new ways to circumvent the strict laws around drone use in built-up areas, which could hamper deliveries in cities.

Related: Chinese online retailer to expand drone delivery routes in 2017

Amazon targets city delivery

Amazon completed a well-documented trial of its autonomous drone delivery service, Prime Air, in the UK in December 2016.

However, under that system, the company is only able to deliver packages to rural locations where drones have enough space to manoeuvre and land safely.

To bring deliveries to the city, Amazon is exploring the use of drones high above the skyline to monitor packages as they descend.

For safety, the drone will supposedly send a radio message to a delivery that strays off course, commanding it to deploy a parachute, compressed air canister or landing flap.

(Credit: CNN)

Related: French postal service given go-ahead to start drone deliveries

A fanciful concept?

Internet of Business spoke to the CEO of UK-based Drone Defence, Richard Gill, who welcomed Amazon’s efforts but questioned the feasibility of the concept.

“It is good to see Amazon’s continuing innovation in their Prime Air service, but I think this is one of their more fanciful concepts,” Gill said. “By delivering the customer’s items via a parachute system, they are hoping to reduce the risk of the drone causing harm or being damaged during delivery.

“In the UK, the Civilian Aviation Authority (CAA) prohibit items being dropped from drones which may endanger persons or property, so there is a legal hurdle to overcome.

“While a concept like this looks good in theory, I believe it will struggle in real-life situations. Regardless of electromagnetic steering devices or air jets to keep packages on course, with a gust of wind, there is potential for lots of iPhones and other gadgets getting stuck in peoples’ garden trees. And what would happen if it landed in the wrong garden?”

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