In order to use drones to handle its delivery operations, ecommerce giant Amazon Inc has filed a patent application in India for exclusive rights on multi-scale fiducials. Fiducials are 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.
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 can be used in various applications, including localisation, tracking and detecting the orientation of objects marked with these features.
Amazon Prime Air is a delivery system designed to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes or earlier using unmanned aerial vehicles. 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 only during daylight hours when there are low wind and good visibility. Operations are, however, stopped during rainfall and in similar tough weather conditions.
In June, Amazon had filed a patent application in India for a technology which to ensure that automated aerial vehicles (AAVs) do not hit humans or animals while delivering packages. The AAV could also communicate with other such air-borne objects in the area and share information related to obstacles and weather conditions.
However, the filing of all these patent applications does not imply that Amazon will get an approval for deploying drones for its commercial use in India. Amazon stated on its website,
“We are working with regulators and policymakers in various countries in order to make Prime Air a reality for our customers across the globe.”
In India, Mumbai-based ideaForge, known for manufacturing the Netra unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), raised $10 Mn as part of its Series A investment last year. IdeaForge’s UAVs, however, have been widely deployed by the Indian Armed Forces for surveillance, crowd monitoring and rescue operations, and offer a compelling solution for commercial applications in verticals such as energy, utilities, telecom, and agriculture. If Amazon receives the patent for its drone technology, drones would then make way into another big sector in India which is ecommerce.
(The development was reported by Business Standard)