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Amazon’s Drone Delivery Plans Include Smartphone Tracking

An Amazon patent filed with the U.S. Patent Office has details of just how the eCommerce company’s delivery drones may work, which involves a tracking system that uses smartphone data.

BBC News reported Friday (May 8) about the details of the patent and proposed delivery system that are just being released now, following approval last week  — although they were filed in September of last year.

Though it is indeed possible that the ultimate “final” delivery drone may differ from the plans filed eight months ago, the initial details disclose that the drones will update their routes in real time. And customers will be able to customize locations for package deliveries – such as home, office, etc.

Different unmanned drones will be deployed depending on the shape and weight of the items being delivered. Radar, sonar, sensors and cameras will help monitor obstacles and landing zones, and the drones will be able to modify flight details accordingly.

As reported earlier this week, the FAA may be relaxing its stance on drone flights – having unveiled projects this week for drones to be used by BNSF and CNN during pilot programs to test flights beyond the sight of human operators, a move that might lead to package delivery. Amazon has just recently begun testing drones in the U.S. earlier this year, but regulations stipulated that the drones can fly at altitudes no greater than 400 feet and must remain in a pilot’s sight.

The FAA had proposed rules earlier this year that would prohibit such flights. Yet proponents of “beyond-sight” flights – including drone industry companies themselves – say they are necessary in order to make several applications feasible, enabling everything from pipeline inspections to deliveries. The FAA has required that one human oversee each drone flight, which makes large scale deployments difficult. At present the FAA allows only a Boeing Co. subsidiary and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to fly drones beyond sight off the coast of Alaska and along U.S. borders, respectively.

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