Amazon has patented a mini drone that could help find missing children

Amazon drone patentAmazonThe hover command shown in this patent image has multiple applications for police officers.

This week Amazon won a patent for a miniature, voice-controlled “unmanned aerial vehicle assistant” (UAV), as first discovered by GeekWire. The UAVs are essentially miniature drones with the ability to be remotely controlled via voice command and act as assistants in a variety of roles including finding a lost child in a crowd.

The patent claims the drone could receive a “find Timmy” command from the user — Timmy being the name Amazon is using for the missing child — and then search for the child. Commands could be pre-programmed or customisable via an app so that you could control the drone using a phone.

The drone has a lot of uses

The patent refers to a wide range of potential uses. Amazon wants these drones to be smaller, lighter, and less expensive than conventional drones — made possible by using a separate processor. The patent also shows how the drone can “dock” on a platform like a microphone when it’s not in use.

Amazon drone patentAmazonOne patent image shows the officer’s radio microphone as a docking station.

Amazon regularly patents drone technology, so the fact that it has won the patent doesn’t mean the company is actually working on developing any one of the uses the patent refers to.

The hover command — where the drone moves to a certain position and stays there — is described as especially useful for police officers. During a traffic stop, for example, the UAV could move with the officer to the subject’s vehicle. It would then record the vehicle’s identifying characteristics such as make, model, and colour. It might then fly out in front of the officer to detect possible dangers, flying at a predetermined height to provide an elevated view or illuminating a dark area.

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