Amazon From Above: Your Packages May Arrive by Parachute Label
While flying drone delivery systems are a welcome part of the picture for many of us—though not so much for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that seems to be actively getting in the way as much as it can—there are still quite a few issues to work out before we’ll be able to pick up our phones, order things, and have these delivered no matter where we happen to be.
A new patent from Amazon suggests that day may not be as far away as we think.
The recently-revealed patent in question is for a breed of shipping label with a special twist: it effectively doubles as a parachute. It looks like the regular label, but underneath is a system of cables, harnesses and other such necessaries allowing it to activate like a parachute when the package is dropped.
Such a move successfully solves the last-few-feet issue of delivery, and in a much better fashion than landing the drone with its cargo on the ground. By continuing to fly, it saves power, and allows the drone to go farther on the same charge, extending delivery radii and allowing more users to get in on the action.
Better yet, the parachute-based labels could be removed and regular labels used instead for ground shipments.
Trying to get packages to go those last few feet from the drone just above your house to a place where customers can physically reach a package has long been a challenge, and the kind of challenge that isn’t so easily beaten.
Drop the package from the drone and you risk damage to the package—not to mention damage to customer sentiment—land the drone and you increase fuel consumption to get it aloft again, as well as potential damage to people who walk too close to spinning blades. An parachute-assisted air drop, though, could be just the thing here.
Getting packages those last few steps from the sky above someone’s front door to the front door can be a bit of a challenge, and likely part of the reason the FAA is dragging its feet on drone delivery. Still, with technology like this, we may well get our drone drops after all, thanks to parachute-based delivery labels.