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An Amazon patent drawing for a “gust resistant location marker” shows a delivery drone approaching the device. (Amazon illustration via USPTO)

If the winds of change are blowing when it comes to how packages will be delivered to our homes, Amazon appears to at least be thinking about how location markers on the ground won’t actually be swept away before a drone spots them.

A new patent published Tuesday, and first filed in October 2017, spells out the details around a “gust resistant location marker,” designed with special aerodynamics to prevent or minimize movement caused by wind or the downdraft from an unmanned aerial vehicle.

According to the filing for the device, credited to inventor James Matthew Hopwood Thomas, the location could be delivered to an address prior to the expected delivery of a package by UAV. Or the marker could be sent electronically, printed out and constructed for placement at the delivery location.

Folds and air holes are visible in a printed gust resistant location marker. (Amazon illustration via USPTO)

With strategically placed folds and air holes, the marker would hopefully do what leaves or bits of trash in the yard fail to do — stay put.

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The UAV might also read the marker from above to extract specific information related to the delivery such as details about the order, the customer, the physical dynamics of the drop-off point and more. Instructions could be relayed to the UAV telling it to drop a package five feet to the north of the marker’s location, for instance.

“The location marker may be formed of any suitable material such as paper, cardboard, plastic, paper board, wood, or some other suitable material,” the patent filing said. “In some cases [a paper marker] may be printed from a printer associated with the user.”

The filing states that wind and downwash airflow from a UAV could be turbulent and dislodge a location marker made of paper that is just lying flat on the ground. But according to the patent, testing has revealed that the folds and apertures of the gust resistant location marker significantly increase the marker’s ability to remain in place even with a drone coming in for landing.

Read the full patent for further details.

(Amazon illustration via USPTO)
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