Amazon Patents Self-Destructing Drone

Eric Lieberman | Associate Editor

Amazon has been pushing forward with its drone technology for delivery services and other uses for a while. But more recently it was granted a patent for self-destructing flying machines.

Formally referred to as “Directed fragmentation for unmanned airborne vehicles [UAVs],” the patent outlines the process in which various components will disassemble when an in-flight emergency occurs.

Components include motors, sensors, batteries, and casing, and several additional parts. The self-imposed dismantling of the UAV will likely have to be done in a precise sequence in order to ensure complete safety of those below.

Factors for the drone operator include “flight path, the flight conditions, and terrain topology information, among other[s]” reads the patent.

Small chunks of hardware and technical parts falling to the ground still portends danger, but it may be superior to a much larger, intact aircraft, and thus potentially better.

And the jettisoning of components can potentially be prioritized, as the controller can select which specific parts to drop first in order to avoid over-disposal. (RELATED: Robot Falconry Is The New Way To Fend Off Birds Near Airports [VIDEO])

Amazon, once a relatively simple e-commerce service, has grown into a tech conglomerate with a stake in several industries, and very ambitious goals. And at least partially due to this expansion, it has filed a number of patents that are unique and enterprising.

The company filed a patent for flying warehouses called “airborne fulfillment centers” (AFCs) late last year. Amazon says drones would descend from the AFCs — which would be placed adjacent or in cities — to deliver products at a way faster rate due to its proximity to customers. (RELATED: Trains, Boats May Soon Be Part Of Amazon’s Business)

Amazon also was granted a patent in May that appears to show it doesn’t want in-house shoppers comparing prices for other retailers and service providers.

But just like a lot of other patents filed by U.S. tech companies, it is not clear if Amazon will actually utilize such technology, or even develop it in the first place. Some firms just want to block other companies from creating the technology, while others genuinely want to explore the possibility of its ultimate implementation.

Either way, it’s yet another example of Amazon’s power-hungry and creative mindset.

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