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Amazon's Latest Drone Would Parachute Parcels Into Your Backyard

Amazon was awarded a patent this week for a system in which a package would be "forcefully" propelled from a drone and land by parachute.
Image: Amazon drone
A drone carries a package at Amazon's research and development labs.Amazon via AP
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Amazon's idea for drone deliveries just keeps getting wackier.

The U.S. e-commerce giant was awarded a patent earlier this week for a system in which a package would be "forcefully" propelled from an unmanned aerial vehicle and would be helped to land by tools including a parachute.

"The package delivery system can apply the force onto the package in a number of different ways. For example, pneumatic actuators, electromagnets, spring coils, and parachutes can generate the force that establishes the vertical descent path of the package," the filing from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said.

Amazon's drone would hover nearby, equipped with sensors and a camera, to make sure that the package would land in the intended area. If it was going off course, the drone could trigger the parachute or any other stabilizing mechanism to be deployed.

"In some examples, the deployment of all the parachutes may be staggered in time in order to change the descent path of the package," the patent says. Amazon's plan could help it solve the issue of getting packages to small areas such as front porches.

Related: Amazon Wins Patent for a Flying Warehouse

"An ability to cause a package to descend through a vertical trajectory … Can be advantageous when attempting a delivery in an area with limited open space, such as an alley or a fenced back yard," the patent filing explained.

Amazon has been trialling drone deliveries — known as Prime Air — in the U.K. and continues to be awarded patents as it figures out how to scale the system. It recently won a patent for a giant flying warehouse that acts as a launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes. Amazon is awarded several patents, many of which do not see the light of day.