On December 14, 2016, Amazon made its first ever drone delivery in East Anglia. Since then, the hype surrounding the giant’s drone delivery system has barely left the news, and with the patent for their parachute drone deliveries being granted, they have made their way back to the headlines yet again.
The patent was granted on May 30, 2017, for a “system that can comprise a label that includes a parachute to enable the packages to be dropped from an aerial vehicle, yet land at the package’s destination without damage”.
Simply put, in a few years’ time, little Amazon parachutes dropping out of the sky every now and then on people’s backyards, might just become an everyday thing.
According to the patent abstract, this system could include a self-adhesive backing, parachute cords with shock absorbers and a breakaway cover. It could also adjust to a package's size or even have multiple parachutes for larger or heavier items. The parachute itself or the breakaway cover will also contain all delivery details for the package. Development of this model would also solve a lot of grievances regarding the current drone delivery system such as the issue of drones flying low altitudes and interrupting electrical lines and wires.
As exciting as the possibilities sound, the feasibility of the system and whether Amazon will do further work on it is yet to be determined. The patent also does not mention what safety measure they are planning to put in place for any possible parachute malfunctions – for example, what happens when a chute fails to be deployed, and the package unwittingly falls on an unsuspecting pedestrian?
While embedded parachutes are a very logical extension to the drone delivery models currently being developed, it is, however, necessary to be noted that Amazon’s current automated drone delivery models is not legal yet and has only been tested in selected environments. So it is safe to assume that the tech giants are not swishing out these parachutes anytime in the near future, but it is still an upgrade worth looking forward to!