Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oh, patents! Commercial drones

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Imagine all your Amazon and postal service packages delivered by drone!

Although long lines at the post office, at this festive time of the year, do not appear to be the primary reason for the piloting and testing of drone deliveries carried out separately, both by the French postal service in France, and Amazon in the UK, this might well be what’s in store for the future. 

Rather, it is both the costs and difficulty of accessing remote locations that prompted developments and research in this domain for the French postal service. And in the UK, for Amazon, it looks like speed of service might be part of the equation too, since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted: “13-minutes - click to delivery time” following successful delivery of  popcorn and an Amazon Fire tablet, from the Amazon fulfillment center, to the first drone-delivery customer, located 2 miles away. (WSJ, Wells & Stevens, 12/2016)

Amazon commercial drones are located at the Amazon Cambridge fulfillment center in the UK. They are permitted to operate in the airspace at 400 feet, during the daytime only, to avoid collisions with aircrafts. They are completely autonomous devices, driven by GPS, and can carry a payload of 5lbs. Amazon is testing in the UK, because it could not secure authorization to use the US airspace. (BBC)

Likewise, in France, the French postal service has begun weekly service in the remote and mountainous location of the southwestern Var region after securing permission from civil aviation authorities to operate in the airspace of that region. The French postal service drones are operated by the DPDgroup. They carry payloads up to 6 lbs, at a speed of 30 km/hour with a maximum range of 20 km. (Le FigaroLe Monde - J.M. Normand 12/2016)

Drone deliveries are highly patented technologies. The following are a few of these patents ranging from the ADLPs (Aerial drone landing pads), to the computerized systems for managing drone delivery cycles:
  • WO2016196093 (A1) 2016-12-08 - Systems, methods, and apparatuses for managing aerial drone parcel transfers  
  • US2016335898 (A1) 2016-11-17 - Automated drone management system
  • WO2016094067 (A1) 2016-06-16 - Drone docking station and delivery system
  • GB2537122 (A) 2016-10-12 - Automated drone package receiver module
  • US2015248640 (A1) 2015-09-03 - 3D model and beacon for automatic delivery of goods
  • US2014316243 (A1) 2014-10-23 - Systems and techniques for delivery and medical support
  • US2016101874 (A1) 2016-04-14 - Drone receiving systems and methods
  • US2016033966 (A1) 2016-02-04 - System and method for controlling drone delivery or pick up during a delivery or pick up phase of drone operation
  • US2016068264 (A1) 2016-03-10 Methods, Systems and Devices for Delivery Drone Security 

Amazon makes first drone delivery – Dec. 14 (BBC)
Amazon conducts first commercial drone delivery (WSJ, Wells & Stevens, Dec. 14, 2016)
In major step for drone delivery, amazon flies package to customer in the England
Premiers clients pour les drones d'Amazon et de la Poste - Le Monde 15 déc. 2016 - J.M. Normand

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