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Amazon plans exclusive drones for India; files patent

October 09, 2017 11:14 IST

Firm says the proposed drones can also be used to identify other such objects, along with aircraft, plying within Indian skies

As part of its efforts to use drones to handle some of its operations, online marketplace giant Amazon Inc has filed a patent application in India for exclusive rights on multi-scale fiducials, black and white marks on any object for the self-operating aerial vehicles to identify them from different distances.

 

The proposed drones can also be used to identify other such objects, along with aircraft, plying within Indian skies, said the company.

According to the specifications filed with the Indian Patent Office, the multi-scale fiducials will have three or more scales, where the child fiducials are nested or linked by a relative position to the parent fiducials, thereby, facilitating target identification and tracking.

Another application may be focused solely on an innovation that would enable target identification of other drones or similar aerial vehicles.

Fiducials are optically recognisable features often used in computer vision applications.

Common fiducials include grids of black and white blocks of a fixed size, which may be randomly generated and it could be used in various applications, including localisation, tracking and detecting orientation of objects marked with these features including robotics, printed circuit board manufacturing, printing, augmented reality and automated quality assurance, among others, elaborates the firm.

A video was posted on company's website showing the use of drone technology for the safe delivery of packages to its customers.

Amazon Prime Air is a delivery system designed to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes or earlier using unmanned aerial vehicles.

In the video, it was shown how a Prime Air vehicle delivered a package at a specific landing marked with grids of black and white blocks, fixed at the customer premises.

Earlier, Amazon Technologies had filed another patent application in India seeking approval for a technology that would ensure a quick response from the propellers of a drone, in case it detects an object like a human or an animal on its way.

This would help the automated aerial vehicle (AAV), as it is referred, from hitting a pet or a human being while delivering a payload.

The AAV could also communicate with other such air-borne objects in the area and share information related to obstacles and weather conditions.

"For example, if a dog approaches the AAV as it is landing, and the dog enters the safety perimeter of one of the propellers of the AAV, a safety profile is automatically performed so that the animal is not harmed by the propeller," it said in the specifications filed for the previous patent application.

While filing a patent application does not mean that the company may get an approval for a said innovation or ist commercial use, it is an indication that the company could be interested in deploying such technology in India.

The company has also been conducting trials in the United Kingdom (UK) to gather data to improve the safety and reliability of these systems.

It is currently permitted to operate during daylight hours when there is low wind and good visibility.

Operations are, however, stalled during rainfall and in similar tough weather condition like during snowfall and in ice-cold conditions, said the company on its website.

Amazon is looking to expand its drone operations, once it gathers more data on how to improve the safety and reliability of such systems.

"We are working with regulators and policymakers in various countries in order to make Prime Air a reality for our customers across the globe," stated Amazon on its website.

Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Gireesh Babu in Chennai
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