Amazon's plans to use delivery drones for its packages through Amazon Prime Air as been further extended as Amazon has been awarded a patent from the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office for a drone docking system. Amazon proposes for their drones to dock and recharge on street lamps and other urban poles.
In the Abstract of the filed patent says "The docking stations can be networked with a central control and a plurality of UAVs. The docking stations can include a number of services to facilitate both UAV guidance and maintenance and community acceptance and benefits. The docking stations can include package handling facilities and can act as a final destination or as a delivery hub. The docking stations can extend the range of UAVs by providing recharging/refuelling stations for the UABs. The docking stations can also include navigational aid to guide the UAVs to the docking stations and to provide routing information from the central control. The docking stations can be incorporated into existing structures such as cell towers, light and power poles and buildings. The docking stations can also comprise standalone structures to provide additional services to underserved areas."
Amazon is hoping to address the problem of range by allowing its drones to charge en route when delivering parcels. Amazon suggest the docking stations could also be installed on tall structures such as cell towers, radio towers, electricity poles, office buildings and even church steeples as well as the proposed street lamps.
A docking station could also provide a place for drones to wait out bad weather or to await instructions on a delivery. As with all patents there is no guarantee that the docking stations will materialise in the near future.
IDTechEx believes that this is an excellent idea and totally practicable. It is in the tradition of reinventing existing infrastructure as with electric car charging from lamp posts, preferably ones powered by solar panels, solar roads and wind turbines. Another reinvention is the NASA proposal of passenger carrying drones landing in the clover leaf circles of freeway on-off roads. For more see the IDTechEx reports Electric Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 2015-2025 and Manned Electric Aircraft 2016-2031 .
Source and top image: United States Patent and Trade Mark Office
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