Why Amazon drones will always land on their feet

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Awarded two patents for “adjustable” robotic propellers and landing-gear extension, the online retailer seems geared to deliver “fragile packages on tough terrain”.

Amazon has secured two patents for technology that may indicate its progress on making its drone delivery service a reality, according to CNBC. The retailer has issued the patents on Tuesday, according to GeekWire.

Amazon Prime Air, the e-commerce giant’s cargo airline, has been working on drone delivery since at least 2013. In 2015, it filed for the patents in question even as it released an advertisement for the service featuring Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson.

In 2016, it began testing its drone army in collaboration with the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority.

According to CNBC, this technology that Amazon has got patents for would enable the drones to “deliver fragile packages on tough terrain”.

Essentially, the patents are for technology that enables a drone’s hardware parts to adjust themselves in accordance with the environment the drone finds itself in. Propellers with “robotic adjustable wingtips” would reorient the UAV while legs of varying lengths would sprout from underneath to help the drone land stably on a slope or bumpy ground.

Special sensors on the drone’s landing arm would help the machine understand the terrain it is about to land on.

The UAV would be stabilized further on landing as a “barbed spike” extends and hooks into the ground. And that’s not all. With the help of a magnet or “vacuum suction cup”, it could land safely on metallic or even vertical surfaces.

The intricate propeller “winglets”, similar to those found on an aircraft, would help the drone counter air resistance and make precise adjustments in its flight path.

This may or may not become a reality, and Amazon may or may not manufacture drones that can land on their feet like cats. But this patent means the technology is sound. And the sound is ‘miaow’.

Source : The Hindu 

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