Latest Amazon patents include drones that read human gestures

James Marshall
March 24, 2018

According to the company, an example of a gesture that people might give to a delivery drone includes "waving their arms in a shooing manner", which would tell the drone to stop moving in that direction.

Amazon has obtained approval on a new patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures and voices on Tuesday. The company started by making the first ever drone-based delivery in England in 2016 in addition to rather fantastical patent filings such as a flying warehouse and self-destructing delivery drones.

As specified by several illustrations, the delivery drone could release the package it's carrying, change its flight path to avoid crashing, ask humans a question or abort the delivery.

Amazon's delivery drone will have the capability of recognizing human gestures and responding accordingly. It says that the drone is able to use people's voice commands to be able to take better paths to the delivery location.

This communication relies on a series of depth sensors and cameras.

The drones would recognize these gestures through a combination of sensors, computer vision and an onboard database of expected gesture commands. It would first receive the gesture, then access a database of gestures, determine what the gesture means, and then proceed according to the gesture and the delivery instructions.

To be able to deliver their items, the packages will contain extra packaging. The patent also covers various methods the drone might use to ascertain if a package should be left with someone, ranging from direct visual identification to an authentication sequence between the user's smartphone and the drone itself. Although the patent does not mention Alexa explicitly, one can assume that this is going to be an Alexa enabled delivery drone.

The patent, filed in July 2016 and published recently, is in line with the company's goal to maintain a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles that will rapidly deliver packages in 30 minutes or less. To operate, Amazon would likely require regulatory approval from federal authorities controlling the skies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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