If you are like us, you’ve wondered what all the hoopla about drones making home deliveries is about. Our battery-operated vehicles carry very little payload and still don’t have a very long range. Add sophisticated smarts and a couple of delivery packages and you are going to need a lot more battery. Or maybe not. Amazon’s recent patent filing shows a different way to do it.
In the proposed scheme, a delivery truck drives to a neighborhood and then deploys a bunch of wheeled or walking drones to deliver in the immediate area. Not only does that reduce the range requirement, but there are other advantages, as well.
For one, you’d expect the truck will keep the drones at full charge. In addition, most of the smarts for the drones live in the truck itself. The truck can track the drone position and calculate routes, commanding the relatively dumb drones to do what they are told. There’s even a provision for launching an aerial drone to help monitor the delivery robots.
Of course, you assume the main vehicle could also be autonomous, but too large to, say, drive up to your doorstep and drop off a box. So, when you think about it, it makes sense to have one robot bring a smaller robot or robots to handle the actual delivery. Is it really patentable? Don’t ask us, we aren’t lawyers.