In a new patent application, Amazon revealed that its drone delivery system may be able to tap into consumer mobile phones in order to track where a person is at the time of delivery.
The feature, called “Bring It To Me,” will allow the drone to deliver items directly to the user based on their current location as determined by a mobile device or Wi-Fi network.
Amazon’s drones will also be able to communicate with one another about environmental factors that could affect a flight — weather, for instance — according to the patent. The filing also details how the UAV will use radar, sonar, camera, infrared sensors, or other components to assist in emergency landings.
Drones in other, darker contexts have long been used to track people down. Whether users will see this potential feature as an invasion of privacy or as a useful tool is yet to be seen.
Amazon has been testing delivery by drone in Canada after the company failed to come to a workable agreement with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Since then the FAA has come out with a research program that tests drones as tools for news gathering and crop monitoring, but not package delivery.