2 December 2017
Amazon Awarded Patent for Self-Destructing Drone
By Matthew Humphries
Drone deliveries look to be one of the ways we'll receive deliveries in future, and Amazon is at the forefront of delivery drone development. But in order for drones to safely fly above our heads, every situation needs to be catered for including a catastrophic failure of the drone mid-flight. Amazon just won a patent for its solution to that problem.
The patent in question is titled "Directed fragmentation for unmanned airborne vehicles." What it describes is a fragmentation controller fitted to a drone that can take over when a failure is detected. That failure may be the on-board battery exploding, the structure cracking, or a rotor failing, for example.
As The Verge reports, the fragmentation controller will assess the current situation including flight path, weather, and nearby terrain before selecting the best "fragmentation sequence." In other words, the drone figures out the best way to self destruct based on its location. The flight controller may also be able to help by changing the drone's path if the specific failure allows that to happen.
It's inevitable that drones will fail in mid-flight, especially if Amazon Prime Air eventually fills the skies with thousands of them every day. At least with this self-destruction feature you'll only have a bit of drone hit you on the head rather than the whole drone.
A self-destructing drone is just the latest in a number of recent unusual patents Amazon has filed/won. Earlier this year the company detailed an underwater storage facility, a drone delivery tower, and a parachute shipping label. One thing is very clear: Amazon is serious about delivery drones, meanwhile consumers are more concerned with which is the best drone to buy this Christmas.