Amazon has filed a patent submission for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that can recognize human gestures and react accordingly, and this seems to be a drone-related patent. Alongside standard design components for any electronics patent such as a processor, operating system and storage, the filing reveals designs for a “UAV Management Module” which encompasses a 4-tier design including a “Communication Component, Navigation Component, Gesture Determination Component, and Delivery Component.” Further on in the document, it lists the drone’s abilities to observe human gestures, access an intricate database where human gestures are stored, determine what those human gestures are, and then proceed in responding to those gestures accordingly. Humorous images within the patent display a very welcoming human who is greeting the drone with open arms. A gesture that the drone might register in it’s database as “you have arrived at the correct location, please place item on lawn.”
Within the patent there are examples of the drone being able to read gestures and act upon them, as well as describing specific gestures that the drone could react to. “...e.g. waving of one’s arms aggressively in front of one’s face, covering one’s head with one’s arms, moving of one’s arms in a shooting fashion (e.g. as one would shoo a flock of birds),” would all constitute the drone to perceive that it should abort the mission. The document also lists the drones ability to recognize that a recipient is pointing and where they are pointing to, so that the drone can be instructed as to where an appropriate place to land might be. There is also description of a device that could allow a person to interact with the drone. Described as either an actual hand held device or an app, which could instruct the drones movement as to where the drone can land safely and deliver its payload, or authenticate the user’s identity.
Amazon has made headlines recently for announcing their own delivery service that would initially augment their current partnerships with FedEx and UPS, and could potentially compete with those partners as a standalone delivery service. Initially their delivery service would serve to deliver packages from third party sellers on Amazon to reach the Amazon buyers. In addition to announcing their own delivery service, they have filed a slew of drone-related patents including a patent that would send out fleets of trucks with drones attached to them that would then detach, deliver packages and then return to the truck. Within the gesture-recognizing drone patent there is an image of the drone leaving a truck, flying to a recipient and then returning to the truck. This reveals that rather than Amazon just submitting patents for great drone delivery ideas, they are indeed designing a complex network of delivery drones with different features and abilities. Whether or not any of these patents will be realized will solely depend on Amazon’s ability to develop the drones and navigate the legality of their use.