Amazon Drone Patent Describes a Delivery Drone That Will Talk to You

Amazon files a new drone delivery patent focusing on customer safety: a drone that warns of potential danger.

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Amazon's drone delivery patents just keep on coming. Tuesday's patent, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, reveals that the Seattle-based company is considering having their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) be able to speak commands or messages to bystanders, should anything occur to the UAV during a drop-off. In short, if a drone malfunctions and lands in a playground while one of its rotors is still whirring at full-speed, it may be a good idea for the drone to repeatedly tell bystanders to "Move Away."

According to the patent, the Amazon drones would be able to "conduct a speech dialog with a nearby person in order to request information and/or answer questions." That means the company isn't just thinking of the potential downfalls here, but could also allow customers to potentially reschedule a delivery. What if you ordered something, but your plans have changed and you forgot a UAV was on its way? You head outside to get in your car, but see a friendly little drone arrive. It would be really nice if you could just speak to it, and tell it to reschedule your order for another time. Well, apparently Amazon agrees, as their patent includes the ability to "ask the UAV to postpone delivery." 

It's pretty incredible that we live in a time when we're able to ask a drone to do anything, never mind reschedule something for us. There are all sorts of benefits to drone delivery which Amazon is focused on. Besides rescheduling, this patent also mentions that a UAV would "ask a person to identify themselves prior to releasing the product at the delivery destination," which seems like common sense but never actually occurred to me. 

What may be troubling for some, is the fact that this latest patent even considers accidents and goes in depth about how we, the consumers, would be able to help. How often would something go wrong? Obviously, that's a question for another time, but Amazon makes it clear that flawless deliveries will not be 100% guaranteed. "The UAV may have become disabled by losing power, by colliding with something, by becoming tangled in or by something," the patent admits honestly. 

Amazon LLC. / United States Patent and Trademark Office

So what would you do, if a nearby drone was malfunctioning? How would you even know what steps to take? This is where the command and talk functions proposed in this patent come into play, and they honestly seem very useful at this juncture. "The speech may comprise a request the person to perform an action such as reporting the location of the UAV, moving the UAV to a safe location, retrieving the UAV and delivering it to a control center or operations base, taking the UAV to a charging location, etc.," the patent explains.

This is simply another step in the long series of ideas that Amazon puts down on paper and makes sure to file. We have no guarantee this will be implemented into their future fleet of drones, but to be clear, it would certainly make sense. This not only seems extremely viable to code and standardize, but smart and beneficial to do.