Amazon drones may use parachutes to deliver packages

Amazon's drone deliveries are still in the works, but according to CNN the actual delivery might be effected by parachute, which rather neatly skirts the legal and technical challenges around drone deliveries, which included getting the parcel on the ground.

Deliveries had so far been carried out under relatively controlled locations where a drone could land to release its cargo. Landing a package was not possible everywhere, which was part of the problem, but there were also environmental hazards such as humans, pets and other obstacles.

CNN which came across a patent said, the patent proposed that Amazon's drones could complete deliveries by releasing the package from the air. The drone would monitor from the air, and attempt to adjust the package's descent with either a parachute, a burst of compressed air or other such mechanisms.

In the patent filing, published yesterday, Amazon wrote that such a system could "forcefully propel a package from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), while the UAV is in motion."

According to the patent, the drone could alter the force applied to the package depending on where it wanted the package to land. Amazon says the force, which would establish the vertical descent path of the package, could be applied to the package in several ways including:

  • pneumatic actuators
  • electromagnets
  • spring coils and
  • parachutes

According to Amazon, landing delivery drones created "time and energy resource inefficiencies, which negated at least a portion of the benefit of adopting a network system of UAVs."

What this meant was it was much more efficient to keep the drones in the air and literally drop the packages with a parachute attached when they reached their destination.