How Amazon's latest patent would let customers interact with delivery drones

Amazon on May 29 earned a patent outlining the various methods its delivery drones could use to signal their approach and interact with customers expecting packages, reports GeekWire.

A group of inventors in Seattle filed the patent on behalf of Amazon about two years ago. The patent details numerous two-way messaging systems that could be built into the drones to facilitate communication with humans.

Here are six types of messaging systems included in the patent:

1. The drone and its control center would text customers a status report or show them an online map of the drone's approach.

2. The drone would contain lights and speakers to announce its arrival.

3. A projector built into the drone could put a spotlight on its intended package drop zone or project a message to interact with the customer.

4. The drone would perform a predetermined maneuver, such as a figure eight, to signal its intentions to drop a package.

5. The drone could use an onboard pointer or other form of hardware to identify an obstacle that must be moved for package delivery.

6. Customers could give delivery instructions using specific hand signals or gestures, which a camera-equipped drone could detect.

It is unclear whether the drones Amazon is currently testing contain the two-way messaging systems. However, in a video the company tweeted May 11, drone engineer Michael Ramirez said Amazon is exploring more than 12 different drone configurations.

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