Amazon patent tips bow-and-arrow-proof drones

File photo: Drones fly above the smog covered Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 25, 2016. (REUTERS/dado Ruvic)

In addition to the government regulations, poor weather conditions, weight restrictions, and all other issues that plague Amazon’s emerging drone delivery of the service, the company must also face the prospect of thieves shooting down drones to steal their packages.

It is a problem that Amazon is working on a since at least 2014, when the patent for “the informer” to protect drones against everything from gunfire to hackers violation of the navigation software. The patent was approved last week, GeekWire reported, provides insight into how Amazon is going to protect drone-borne packages of the future.

The patent describes two main lines of defence for the drones. The first electronic systems designed for the detection of the signal jammers or other hacking attempts, including a back-up of the communication interface if the primary is affected. Just like the current wireless routers and cell phones, the system would automatically select which frequency is the least sensitive to interference.


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If hackers manage to take control of a drone, Amazon would receive an alert and the dispatch of a second drone to the scene. The rescue drone would resume control by the opening of a back-up “balance module” to guide the affected drone to a safe landing spot.

Guard against physical threats such as rockets, meanwhile, is where Amazon’s engineers really creative. If a drone is hit, it can deploy an airbag, a foam, a parachute, a bumper, or configuring of one or more rotors for autorotation. And the precautions don’t stop with weapons: Amazon is preparing for a scenario in which someone can use a bow and arrow to try a drone was shot down. Even if the arrow misses, the drone would still be able to detect an anomaly and immediately the country in a safe environment.

As with all patents, there is no guarantee that the defense Amazon describes will end up in the final drone delivery fleet. There is also no guarantee that there is also a fleet: the FAA dragged its feet on giving Amazon permission to test unmanned aircraft for delivery purposes, so the Seattle-based tech giant for the execution of the first drone delivery in the UK instead of earlier this month.

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