Amazon Gets Patent To Use Drones For Surveillance

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been granted a patent to use its drones to provide surveillance as a service to its customers. The application is for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to be used to provide a secondary service of checking on an individual’s property while the vehicles are out doing deliveries. The patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office was applied for in 2015 and granted on June 4.

According to the Amazon patent filing, “The delivery of a package using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) may include performing a surveillance action at a property of an authorized party.” The patent also describes tiers of low, medium, and high surveillance with monitoring via video. It also details plans to send text alerts to customers and create the capability of alerting authorities “such a police or fire department.”

The filing shows that the delivery drones would be used to record video of consented user’s property to look out issues or things out of the ordinary. As an example, the patent says “if a window on a property is broken, and an unknown vehicle is observed outside a house, the probability of an intruder in the house may be high.” The customers would be able to receive images or videos from the drones overlooking the property during the delivery.

The patent says that the drones would only be allowed to record the property of the individuals who consented, not those of their neighbors. Geo-fencing would be used to draw a virtual boundary around the property under surveillance. Any image or data captured outside the geo-fence would be obscured or removed.

Amazon has been making a lot of moves lately to get its delivery drones in the air. Earlier this month, Amazon said it will start delivering packages by drone to customers in 30 minutes or less in the coming months.