August 19, 2019
Amazon’s intentions of using drones to deliver packages to customers have been widely known for years. Amazon announced in March of 2017 that it had completed its first delivery of a package by drone. Drone delivery has not yet come to fruition, but at the company’s recent “re:MARS” conference, Amazon stated that its drones will start delivering packages in the coming months.
As reported by Forbes, Amazon was recently awarded a patent that could give its delivery drones a second use: surveillance. The patent is titled “Image Creation Using Geo-fence Data” and enables a drone to monitor a consenting party’s property to gather data that can be analyzed to determine if the owner should be alerted to, for example, a door left open or a broken window. A key feature of the patent is that the surveillance function can be limited to only a consenting party’s property through geo-fencing and surrounding properties can be obscured. John Tagle, senior PR manager for Amazon said to CNET:
“Some reports have suggested that this technology would spy or gather data on homes without authorization – to be clear, that’s not what the patent says. The patent clearly states that it would be an opt-in service available to customers who authorize monitoring of their home.”
As with many patents awarded to large technology companies, it is unknown whether this functionality will ever be used by Amazon’s delivery drones.
Authors: Jaclyn Tilak and Jay Piett