Global-commerce giant Amazon has strengthened its security measures as it continues to drive towards introducing day-to-day drone delivery.
The company has gained approval for a drone system designed to protect its delivery UAVs for hijackers.
It filed a patent request, which has now been approved, for an anti-hostile takeover system.
Amazon predicts that attackers are likely to target delivery drones for purposes including theft of the aircraft and their packages, as well as to interfere with the flight path and deliberately cause collisions.
In the patent request, Amazon writes: “As the use of UAVs continues to increase, so does the likelihood of hostility towards UAVs. Such hostility may come in the form of attacks brought for any number of purposes (e.g., steal the UAVs and their payloads, crash the UAVs, and otherwise cause disruption to the operation of the UAVs).
“Using these attacks, nefarious individuals and/or systems may be able to obtain control of the UAVs by hacking the communication signals being sent to the UAVs from a controller and/or being sent by the UAV to the controller. Such attacks could cause the UAVs to operate unsafely and could also result in considerable financial loss for their operators.”
The patent request outlines that the delivery drones’ resistance to hijacking relies on a “heartbeat” signal transmitted automatically every few seconds from the aircraft’s controller. If the drone stops receiving the signal it would indicate hijacking, and the aircraft would shift to “safety” mode, according to the patent.
“In the safety mode, the UAV performs one or more pre-programmed actions designed to re-establish communication with the controller, regain control over the UAV in the event of a hostile takeover, and/or land the UAV at a safe location.”
While the online retailer is looking to develop the drone delivery division of its business, Amazon Prime Air, it is also looking to bring UAVs in-house to aid its warehouse management. Last month Commercial Drone Professional reported the company had filed a patent request for warehouse UAVs.