Amazon Patents Pocket-Sized, Voice-Controlled Drones

Image courtesy of USPTO

There you are, driving up and down rows of cars, looking for the right parking spot. What if you could release a tiny drone into the air, and tell it to help out with the search? That’s the kind of future Amazon is looking toward with a new patent for voice-controlled drones that can fit in your pocket.

While Amazon has already been working on its ideas for delivery drones, these little unmanned aerial vehicles would be more like an Echo with wings, Recode notes, a digital assistant that could take to the skies to find parking spots, a kid lost among the grocery store aisles, or provide information on how long the line to buy tickets is.

“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.”

To that end, it could perch atop a police officer’s radios and capture video better than a dashcam, as one of Amazon’s illustrations shows.

The drones would respond to voice commands or instructions from an app when it’s out of voice range, and would return to wherever the drone operator is when its chore is done.

Amazon sees a future where the drones could help someone find lost objects — or people — using RFID tags or facial recognition (for people, not for keys, of course).

“The UAV can receive a ‘find Timmy’ command, which can include the ‘search’ routine, and possibly an ‘identify Timmy’ subroutine to locate a person identified as ‘Timmy,’” Amazon writes in the patent’s description. ”In some examples, Timmy can have, for example, an RFID tag sewn into his clothes or a bar code printed on his clothes, for example, to facilitate identification.”

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