Drones are very noisy, so Amazon’s researchers have invented a really smart way that would allow its flying delivery robots to approach homes silently. Jef Bezos’ plan to take over the world looks more real every day.
The new patent published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office details a drone design that could transform from regular rotor-based drone to a blimp.
As the diagrams discovered by Slashgear shows, the drone will have a membrane packed in its fuselage that could be inflated using a tank with compressed gas in mid-air.
The patent says that, whenever the drone approaches a residential area, it can turn into a blimp that wouldn’t require its propellers to run at full throttle, thus making it practically silent.
The inflated membrane will only be used on the final approach to its target. with the rotors gently guiding it to its final destination with low rotation per minute. This blimp mode will also help reduce the power requirements for lift off and landing. Noise and energy requirements are the two main challenges for last-mile drone deliveries.
The company is thinking about how to solve these problems by using inventions like this blimp mode or the blimp mothership that it patented last year. A visualization of how the latter works went viral this weekend.
The Seattle-based company has been working on drones for its Amazon Prime Air delivery since 2013, when its plans were received with scepticism and plain laughter. Back then, the company promised the service would be operative in 2018, but it hasn’t happened yet.
It’s yet to be seen when and how these will materialize. While the company seems to be actively working on solutions to these problems, right now it seems engineering and regulation limitations will prevent this program to get in service any time soon.