Experts have long assumed that drones will play an important role in logistics in the future. But so far, the dream has suffered from a realistic implementation bottlenecks. Now, the retail giant Amazon is attempting to take the lead again with experimental drone delivery. The company has now filed a new patent application in the USA, which includes a concept that appears fit for the future of logistics. Amazon takes a new approach on drones and wants to avoid the previous disadvantages of such delivery devices.

The online giant’s new approach should guarantee interaction between humans and drones. In general, a human-controlled delivery truck and automated drones work together to deliver. The patent application describes a delivery van that is to serve as a base station. The driver drives his car into an area and stops there. From that point, the delivery drones swarm out and deliver the parcels. The authorities finally approved Amazon’s request on July 8th and granted the patent. This concept could have revolutionized the delivery business, but the euphoria has flattened a little recently, because no company has been able to present a definitive solution for this method so far.

The Car Becomes a Command Bridge

What does not sound particularly spectacular about the idea of drove delivery at first glance, becomes apparent when you take a closer look. Delivery vans are not just simple cars, they also serve as  command centres, which house and control the drones. According to the patent application, the vehicle has a radar, video surveillance, a lidar and a radio. These tools means that you can feed the drones with the information they need for delivery. The human driver serves not only as a commander but also as a fallback plan. If there are problems with a delivery, they can intervene immediately. This logistics concept offers another monetary advantage. Drones built for short distances are significantly cheaper than any other versions of this device.

However, the implementation of delivery by drone is not entirely new. In Europe, there have been tests with similar logistics recently. The Vans & Drones project by Mercedes Benz and the start-up Siroop from Switzerland attempted a similar delivery method, but sadly it flopped. In the experiment, the drones picked up the parcels from a van and, as usual, a human handled the delivery. But Amazon has, in a way, turned the supply chain around. The car with its driver now serves as a hub and command centre and not a mandatory element of delivery.

Drone

Amazon’s plans sound logical and feasible, but they are still a project for the future. Whether this becomes functional and Amazon implements drone delivery in the patented form is still unclear. In any case, the logistics giant has come up with the idea that sounds promising. We can assume that extensive tests will now follow. Amazon usually operates in its home market in the USA before innovations are rolled out to the rest of the world.