This is how Google wants its drones to deliver stuff to you

It might look something like this, but shoutier. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
WRITTEN BY Mike Murphy

In the near future, our skies may be full of drones buzzing around, delivering us our take-out dinners, and shopping orders. But considering how many of us live in densely settled areas and don’t have the lawn space that Amazon envisions us having to receive our drone-delivered goods, how are we going to get these packages? Google has a few ideas.

In a patent awarded to Google April 25, the company outlines a method for delivering packages to consumers with drones. Essentially, a self-flying drone could mitigate all the uncertainties of trying to land, deliver packages, and take off again, by hovering above its delivery target, and slowly lowering packages through a tether. The drone would have sensors onboard that would enable it to tell when the package has touched down, and it could detach and retract the tether cable. It could then buzz off, back to base to recharge and pick up another package.

(US Patent and Trademark Office)

But what’s most interesting in the patent is how Google envisions us humans interacting with these bots. Rather like those talking car alarmsof questionable utility, Google’s patent suggests that its drones would call out to bystanders—perhaps the person waiting for the package, or pedestrians in the area—telling them to watch out. “Caution: Stay back,” the drone might say, until it’s dropped off its cargo, at which point it will let everyone know, with a cheery message: “Delivery complete.”

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