Amazon wants to cushion drone package deliveries and a new patent that it was just awarded would allow it to do so. The new patent envisions being able to drop drone package deliveries onto customer's doorsteps from a height of 25 feet, thanks to a cushion which Amazon is calling an "airlift package protection airbag" that would surround the package and soften the impact of it after being let go by the drone. This would allow the drones to stay relatively high up in the air and not descend as much, which should help them cut down on time flying back to their hub or the next delivery as they'll already likely be high enough in the air to continue back to their return destination.
This method would also help the drones to conserve on battery power as they won't be descending and then ascending over and over. Which height the package may drop from could depend on the weight of the package as well, so lighter packages could end up dropping from a height that is closer to the 25-foot drop, while heavier packages could be dropped from a height that is much closer to the ground. The patent also describes that package drops could be within a range of 5-25 feet, so this range would adjust based on package weight.
What happens if Amazon's drone begins to lose power or if the drone suddenly malfunctions and begins to descend when it's not supposed to? It seems Amazon has thought of that too. According to the patent Amazon envisions building the surrounding cushioning in such a way that it could not only deploy automatically in the event of drone failure, but partially surround the drone in addition to covering the package so that when the drone falls it would be a bit safer upon impact, as well as make it safer for anyone who might be in the drop zone. Amazon also seems to be thinking about fitting the drone with sensors and cameras so it could tell when there may be obstructions within the drop zone, and only deliver the package if the area is free so it isn't dropped on anyone or other objects that could be damaged.