News Feature | January 9, 2017

Amazon Lands Patents To Help Further Drone Deliveries

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Amazon Prime Air

“Airborne Fulfillment Center” and Drone Security patents will help aid secure drone deliveries.

Amazon continues to push hard to move towards drone deliveries in the not-too-distant future. Last month, Amazon successfully completed its first drone delivery via prime air in the U.K., and the retailer is moving purposefully towards the secure and efficient use of drones for delivery in the U.S. in the not-so-distant future.

As part of that move, Amazon has been granted two new patents, one for drone security measures and the other for an “airborne fulfillment center” to aid in drone deliveries.

According to CNBC, the security patent is the result of a 2014 filing by Amazon to copyright “countermeasures of threats to an unscrewed autonomous vehicle,” or drone. The countermeasures are designed to thwart attacks by malicious hackers. The security patent also refers to how security techniques like encryption, frequency hopping and spread-spectrum can be used as tools to protect drones from hacks and interference.

CNBC reports that Amazon has been awarded a U.S. patent for what it described in patent filings as an "airborne fulfillment center," from which it could launch delivery drones to enable fast package deliveries. This fulfillment center resembles a blimp, and would float at an approximate altitude of 45,000 feet. It would be stocked with products that drones could pick up and deliver to nearby customers. It would also serve as a docking and charging station for drones, and the airship could be refueled via a shuttle while in the air.

As CNN reports, the blimp patent would allow for deliveries made in minutes, reducing the resources need to make a delivery and thus reducing overhead. The patent uses the example of sporting events as an environment where the aerial warehouse could be particularly effective, delivering branded products or food to large crowds in a small area.

Amazon also was granted related patents that would allow drones to dock and recharge at tall buildings or other structures, and that would allow drones to use mesh network architectures to communicate.