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article imageAmazon wins patent for pocket-sized, voice-controlled drone

By Karen Graham     Oct 19, 2016 in Technology
Amazon.com has won a patent for a voice-controlled, pocket-sized unmanned aerial vehicle assistant (UAV) that will be lighter, smaller, and less expensive than conventional UAVs.
The patent for the tiny drone describes the UAV as being "an echo with wings," according to the Consumerist.
In the patent, Amazon points out the technology behind the miniature UAV may be better suited to surveillance, such as replacing dash cams in police cars, finding a lost car in the parking lot or even a lost child in the supermarket, all accomplished by acting as a user's eyes and ears.
Amazon s tiny drone would have numerous applications in law enforcement.
Amazon's tiny drone would have numerous applications in law enforcement.
Amazon.com
“In these situations and others, it would be convenient to have a UAV to provide video, audio, or other data remotely to a user without the necessity for a remote control or other equipment,” Amazon’s description reads. “It would be especially convenient if the UAV were small enough to be carried on a person.”
The UAV would use Amazon's Alexa voice control platform, responding to the user's voice command or instructions from an app, and would return to wherever the drone operator happens to be. The app mentioned in the patent would send back images produced by the drone. The pictures can also be used to control the drone when it's out of speaker range.
Actually, it's fairly clear that the mini-UAV will be best-suited to law enforcement work, and to that end, one picture in the patent application shows a mini-drone perched on a policeman's shoulder. It can respond to a command to “follow” suspects or to “hover” at a traffic stop, the patent explains, giving law enforcement multiple views of any given situation.
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Amazon.com
But Amazon wants to make the mini-UAV consumer-friendly and points out a number of instances where the tiny drone would be useful. Amazon says face recognition or RFID tech could be used to track a lost child in the supermarket or at a playground.
Amazon even suggests that if a consumer is waiting in a long line and wants to know how many people are ahead of them, the little drone could be deployed for a quick look-see.
Realistically, Letting a drone loose in a grocery store or many other public places is going to create some legal problems because you would be flying a drone out of eye-sight or in crowded areas. But that is something the FAA will need to work on by defining the regulations better for commercial drone use, says Recode.
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