One of the big worries about delivery drones is what happens if something goes wrong mid-delivery? So if the fragmentation system detects an engine failure, propellor damage, or anything else that points to the drone falling out of the sky, it can activate the self-destruct process and cause the drone to break into several, more harmless pieces. Earlier this week, Amazon was granted a patent for technology that could enable its future drones, in the event of an emergency, to self-destruct in order to protect people on the ground.
Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service is still trying to take off, but it seems that the company might have finally quelled customer fears over the vehicle malfunctioning mid-flight.
The fragmentation controller can study the drones flight path and where it is likely to land, this is apparently done very quickly and then it works out a "fragmentation sequence".
It sounds counter-intuitive as a safety protocol, but if a drone is going to crash anyway, it's better that it hits the ground in small chunks, rather than as bigger, heavier intact aircraft.
Despite Amazon being granted the patents, it doesn't mean that Amazon will actually implement a self-destructing mechanism on their drones, however, it'd probably be a good idea seeing as a fully built drone could be deadly if it clonks someone on the head.
Or, if you want to use the more technical term, "directed fragmentation of an unmanned aerial vehicle". "In doing so, the weight, speed, air drag coefficient, and other factors related to the UAV can be altered".
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