E-commerce giant Amazon has lodged an application for a delivery drone that places human interaction at the forefront of its planning.
The company’s drone delivery branch, Amazon Prime Air, is reportedly poised to roll-out operations for routine delivery towards the end of next year.
As the online retailer moves closer to introducing a large-scale drone delivery service, it has filled a patent application that specifies both audible and visual gesture detection.
While Amazon outlined that the inclusion of audio and visual detection will aid the UAV during delivery, it also noted that this feature offers significant safety advantages.
The application stated: “In the context of this specification, unmanned aerial vehicles may be configured to recognise human interaction for safety purposes (e.g., to avoid a collision), for navigation or direction purposes (e.g., to instruct the vehicles to come closer or drop a package), and for any other suitable purpose (e.g., for training of the vehicle to interpret human interaction).”
Certain gestures, such as waving arms aggressively in front of one’s face or covering of one’s head may, when processed, result in the on-board computer 312 instructing the UAV 304 to adjust its behaviour in some manner by aborting its delivery plan, adjusting one or more aspects of its delivery plan or adjusting the trajectory of its flight path associated with its delivery plan.
Alternatively, certain gestures, such as waving of one’s arms in a parallel directing manner may, when processed, result in the on-board computer 312 instructing the UAV 304 to land, deliver its payload, or in some way interact with the human making the gestures.
Due to imminently changing BVLoS regulations, industry experts predict that routine drone delivery could become a reality in 2019.
While the technology, regulations and piloting may soon be in place to make the transition to drone delivery, ecommerce supply chains remain sceptical about the impact it will have on the industry.
In a statement sent to The Sun, supply chain expert, Mike Danby, said: “While it’s interesting to hear that drones will safely share airspace with conventional aircraft, there’s still some way to go before we see Amazon-style deliveries landing on doorsteps.”
“There are countless issues to first overcome, particularly around infrastructure, privacy and security, and avoiding interference with the package.