Amazon has been on self-destructing drones. Or, if you want to use the more technical term, "directed fragmentation of an unmanned aerial vehicle."
Spotted by , the patent describes what could happen if an Amazon package drone were to fail mid-delivery. Drones can fail for any number of reasons: battery failure, hitting a bird, or even getting shot down. If Amazon drone delivery wants to get off the ground, its drones will need plenty of fail-safes to win the several levels of governmental approval, from federal to city.
"When loss of flight operation is detected, the UAV can enter a fragmentation sequence mode," the patent, invented by Amazon employees Dushyant Goyal and Pragyana K. Mishra, reads. "During the fragmentation sequence, one or more parts or components of the UAV can be released. In doing so, the weight, speed, air drag coefficient, and other factors related to the UAV can be altered. At the same time, the momentum and trajectory of the UAV are also altered."
Amazon's made no secret of its desires to make drone delivery a real thing, it had its first successful U.S delivery earlier this year. By having drones break up mid-flight, the company is hoping the impact of such a worst-case scenario would be lessened. Computers would quickly evaluate the drone's situation and attempt to crash-land its parts wherever they would do the least damage to people. Having a drone part land in a tree or a lake is better than than the entire drone falling on a street.
Of course, there's always a chance that Amazon may never use this idea at all. The Seattle-based company has a history of eye-popping patents, ranging from blimp warehouses to drones that can power your electric car on the road. Never a company considered short on ambition, Amazon is trying to figure out everything that could go wrong before it starts pushing governments on approval.