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Amazon to build flight simulator, ensuring its drones don’t crash

Amazon appears to be building a flight simulator, according to a new patent, to ensure its delivery drones don’t crash while out on deliveries. The flight simulator is meant to help Amazon program its drones to better navigate dropping off parcels at customers’ houses.

A recent patent filed to the European Patent Office shows Amazon is looking at developing an in-house drone flight simulator to “reduce the time and expense required to assess new equipment by eliminating test flights and the costs associated therewith (e.g. fuel, weather, in-flight damage, wear and tear).”

The main reason Amazon wants to build its flight simulator is the ability to perform hundreds of identical tests to isolate problems and eliminate anomalies that can occur during testing, as it pointed out in the patent.

Amazon said that the flight simulator will allow the drone to think it’s flying, which means it can make realistic deliveries while avoiding ‘real’ obstacles at the same time. The flight simulator will be able to test the flight speed of the drone, takeoff and landing, and pitching and rolling the drone. The takeoff and landing locations can also be adjusted.

A table-mounted drone is surrounded by displays mimicking real-world scenarios. Credit: European Patent Office

Amazon Prime Air

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked about the company’s plan to use drones to deliver products during a 60 Minutes interview in 2013. The plan is to use drones to replace standard delivery options available today, in turn reducing costs.

Amazon Prime Air has been working on the drone delivery project for years now with various prototypes being shown off, including a video showcasing the technology to bring hype to drone deliveries. This will allow Amazon.com to start the rollout of their same-day delivery plan that was announced earlier this year.

Amazon Prime Air estimates a delivery time of around 30 minutes to select addresses and a capacity of around five pounds (2.27kg), a large amount of the e-commerce giant’s product catalog.

Photo: Amazon

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