If there’s one thing that appears to be super-popular everywhere you go it’s the use of drones. These small, unmanned gadgets have become incredibly sophisticated over the past few years. While consumers like you and I are most likely to use a drone to mess around with the camera and record great shots, companies like Amazon see genuine value in them and fresh sources of distribution methods. Amazon has been very vocal about their plans to use drones to deliver items to their customers even quicker than they can using current methods, and they’ve made some progress over the past year or so. Google has also been experimenting with the technology and this latest patent that they have proves that they see some commercial value in their efforts.
As The Register is reporting, Google has managed to get a patent – filed in the US – for a “mobile delivery receptacle” which is designed to be the other half of the drone delivery equation. The patent describes a semi-permanent unit that can be set up outside a customer’s home, ready and waiting for packages delivered by air. The idea here is that this “delivery receptacle” can be secured, making sure a package left by someone’s door isn’t pinched by passers-by. There’s also the point that these receptacle, as the patent refers to them – we’d consider them akin to Amazon’s locker systems – will all be of the same size and placed in a position a drone can get to. Everyone’s front porch or driveway is a little different, which could make it difficult for a drone to drop something off, but this solution would allow uniformity throughout.
The way such a pairing would work is that the drone would send out an IR signal to the locker, get a signal back and then proceed to complete the delivery. The patent – as you can see the sketch below – isn’t all that detailed at the moment, and is fairly broad. This gives Google a lot of flexibility in the final design, and naturally a patent gives their competitors a little more to worry about, earmarking such a solution for their own use.