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Now we know how Amazon’s crazy drone delivery service will work

Amazon Prime Air

A newly published patent has shed some more light on Amazon’s ambitious “Prime Air” initiative. Originally unveiled in late 2013, Amazon Prime Air is a project involving futuristic drones capable of delivering purchased goods to customers in less than 30 minutes.

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Thus far, much of what we know about how Prime Air will operate, assuming it ever passes regulatory scrutiny, comes from this Amazon-produced video.

Amazon’s patent on the device, however, fills in a lot of blanks and addresses a number of concerns some skeptics have raised about the idea.

According to the patent, the drones will find their destination by continuously tracking the location of the purchaser’s smartphone. While this might seem strange at first glance, this implementation enables delivery to customers who might not be at home. The patent, for instance, references how a package might even be delivered to a boat.

Furthermore, in a hypothetical world filled with Amazon drones flying to and fro, the drones will be able to communicate with each other regarding weather conditions and other pertinent data which could affect deliveries.

The BBC highlights a few other noteworthy Prime Air features:

  • Amazon will employ a variety of unmanned vehicles depending on the shape and weight of the product
  • Flight sensors, radar, sonar, cameras and infrared sensors will be employed to ensure safe landing zones are found
  • The unmanned vehicle would constantly monitor its path for humans or other animals and modify navigation to avoid such obstacles

While there’s no denying that Amazon Prime Air is an incredibly intriguing idea, it remains to be seen if it will ever be able to pass regulatory muster. On that note, it’s worth pointing out that the FAA earlier this week is considering new drone guidelines that might loosen current restrictions on commercial drone use.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.