Amazon Prime Air drones could self-destruct in mid-air, for real

It's a safety feature

Drones may be a scary and unsafe scourge of the skies in some people’s eye but Amazon isn’t stopping work on its Prime Air drones and is going to make them super safe, by self-destructing.

Amazon just filed for a patent that describes the ability for a delivery drone to self-destruct in mid-air. Why is that safe? No it’s not a way to destroy the product to keep it from being stolen. This is about the people on the ground.

The drone will be able to separate into lots of smaller piece so that if the worst case scenario happens and it’s crashing towards a populated area it’ll be in small parts. That way a big heavy drone won’t land on one person’s head, potentially fatally. Instead small parts could hit and maybe hurt people but without actually killing anyone, hopefully.

This isn’t the only imaginative plan that Amazon has been working on. There have also been ideas like shipping labels that double as parachutes, lamp posts that work as drone docking stations for charging and motherships that are flying warehouses. 

The self-destruction patent described a fragmentation controller which can detect a problem and work out how to jettison parts safely along its remaining possible flight path. This would take into account factors like weather and topography of the land to find the best spots to dump the parts safely. 

This is all at the patent stage right now so we’ll have to wait and see if Amazon implements any of it but what’s clear is that the company isn’t slowing down in its race for the skies anytime soon.

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.