An Amazon Prime Air delivery drone is seen mid-flight.
Prime Air, a conceptual drone-based delivery system currently being developed by Amazon, could potentially deliver packages by using parachutes and dropping them on customers’ doorsteps or backyards, according to a patent filed by the popular e-commerce company.
According to CNN, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Amazon a patent earlier this week for a particular method of delivering packages safely to the ground. While this system will entail more time and effort, this is a more efficient way to ensure that packages won’t collide with objects, people or pets.
The patent’s abstract states that the package delivery system “can apply the force onto the package in a number of different ways,” including through pneumatic actuators, electromagnets, spring coils and parachutes. While mid-flight, these drones can generate force to designate a vertical descent path for the package and once released, they can continue to monitor the package during its descent to ensure that it has landed safely.
As stated in the Prime Air website, Amazon envisions that this type of system will be able to fulfill orders at a much more rapid pace and in a safer and efficient manner. Meanwhile, customers will be able to use delivery drones for packages up to five pounds which would arrive in 30 minutes or less.
Amazon has been testing its delivery drones for several years now and the e-commerce company managed to deliver its first parcel via Prime Air during a private trial run in Cambridge, England on Dec. 7, 2016. The Prime Air delivery drone was also previewed in a commercial for Amazon Alexa that aired during Super Bowl LI.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this particular method could be applicable in the United States anytime soon as there is a mandate that requires automated drones to be under human supervision at all times. As such, there is currently no specific U.S. release date for the drone-based delivery service.
Amazon Prime Air is also in development in the United Kingdom, Austria and Israel.