What if package delivery drones didn’t have to actually land to make their deliveries, and instead just dropped their cargo near your home and flew away? Amazon recently filed several variations on parachutes — in the form of shipping labels — that would soften your package’s landing.
Based on Amazon’s patent application [PDF], the parachute label would consist of multiple layers, with the drone peeling off the label at its destination and opening the parachute. A large or heavy box might have multiple parachutes attached.
Multi-layered parachute labels could also contain bar codes, coupons, or other information.
While the following drawing is certainly not to any scale, it does stand as a reminder that if drone deliveries are delivering packages via parachute, those parcels are going to be left in unsheltered areas, where they would be more vulnerable to the elements and theft:
Commercial delivery drones in the United States aren’t yet a thing, but Amazon is testing the technology and held a demonstration a few months ago where the retailer delivered some sunscreen at a conference.
This is not the wackiest idea that Amazon has had for delivering packages from drones to doorsteps. When patenting ideas to safely drop packages from hovering drones, it included a version of this parachute idea, and also also a system where flaps on boxes could be used like glider wings to sort of guide packages gently to the ground and to their destinations. The autonomous drones would pilot the glider boxes.