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Microsoft: Seeking potential of “drone deliveries to moving vehicles”

By Chris Stonor

Some might say this sounds rather “Bondesque”, but Microsoft has recently taken out a patent, filed in 2017 and finally approved last month, called En Route Product Delivery By Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which describes a way to use drones to deliver various products to a moving vehicle, reports

To use a James Bond imagery, Microsoft are looking at the potential of flying drones to moving cars and delivering products (in the Bond case no doubt weaponry), through an open sunroof or side windows.

Perhaps, the Microsoft boffins are looking at groceries being dropped off on the way back from a school run or maybe the company thinks this is a solution for Amazon to employ without the need to leave a parcel on a doorstep? A bit of a crazy notion, perhaps, and certainly a far cry from moving ships which is quite feasible.

The patent reads, “An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) rendezvous with and transfers a product to a receiving vehicle that is en route to a destination-location. The UAV is dispatched with the product along a flight path that intercepts with a predetermined route that the receiving vehicle is expected to travel along toward the destination-location.”

This could “just” work with self-driving vehicles, but the safety implications are mindboggling if the car is hurtling down a motorway at 70 mph surrounded by other vehicles. What happens if the drone malfunctions and drops the package on the road?

The patent continues, “Once the UAV is within the vicinity of the receiving vehicle, the UAV approaches the receiving vehicle and utilizes cargo release equipment to transfer the product to the receiving vehicle.”

It continues, “In one example, the UAV flies above the receiving vehicle at a synchronized velocity and drops the product through an opening in the roof of the receiving vehicle. In another example, the UAV flies above the receiving vehicle and suspends the product adjacent to a side-window opening of the receiving vehicle to enable an occupant of the receiving vehicle to reach out and retrieve the product.”

Even this sounds rather a stretch for ‘Q’.

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