Google's patent for drone delivery receptacles shows potential, raises questions

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Google has received a patent for the design of a drone delivery receptacle that could be a step forward for Google's hush-hush drone delivery project and could make drone delivery more accessible for many. 

The patent's abstract explains that the goal of the delivery receptacles is to ensure "accurate and reliable package deliveries" when using drones. The process is seemingly quite simple.

First, drones are loaded with a package and assigned a delivery location. An autonomous delivery receptacle in that area is notified of the impending delivery and moves to an accessible location. As the drone approaches, the delivery receptacle transmits infrared beacons to the drone. The drone, once it locates the beacon, zeroes in on the receptacle and deposits the package.

At that point the delivery receptacle transports the package on the ground to a safe and secure delivery location, such as a garage. The recipient of the package is notified of the delivery.

This sort of technology could be helpful in more than a few situations, some of which the patent mentions. For example, drones flown with exposed rotor blades could prove dangerous, particularly to young children or pets. They could also be a hazard to powerlines or odd infrastructure on homes. Some people may find it unsafe for those types of drones to land on their property.

Additionally, some homes may not have air-accessible property, such as homes built in heavily forested areas. Drone delivery isn't an option for those locations. Having a robotic messenger that can approach a home just as any other ground delivery service does could make drone delivery more accessible.

Of course, there are still some questions and concerns when it comes to the new tech. How will individuals retrieve their packages? Will there be a time limit set on how long a drone receptacle will wait around for the customer? Of course, we can't ignore the potential for regulations on these autonomous delivery robots.

Time – and a slew of rigorous testing – will tell if the receptacle will stand a chance as we move into this new era of drone tech.

For more:
- read the full patent

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