Amazon Gets Patent for ‘Mothership’ Mega-Drone and ‘Flying Warehouse’

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What happens when you connect a flock of flying drones? You get a “collective unmanned aerial vehicle” that’s capable of lifting heavier burdens and flying greater distances than smaller drones can, according to a patent recently granted to online retailer Amazon.

The Amazon Technologies Inc. patent describes a large and robust flying drone made up of numerous smaller drones, designed to make long-distance flights or to carry heavy packages.

According to the patent, filed Feb. 19, 2015, and granted Dec. 29, 2016, individual modules could detach from the collective drone body once they were no longer required, and operate independently to deliver smaller burdens. [5 Surprising Ways Drones Could Be Used in the Future]

Collectively, a group of drones might outperform a single drone by sharing resources, such as power and navigation capabilities, in order to operate more efficiently. In addition, the size of a linked drone array would be more visible, thereby allowing aircraft and air traffic controllers to spot them more easily, Patent Yogi reported.

The patent description explains that a collective aerial drone would be capable of transporting “virtually any size, weight, or quantity of items,” and would also be able to travel longer distances.

By comparison, the average quadcopter drone — a design that incorporates four propellers — can typically fly continuously for up to 30 minutes and transport up to 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), according to Patent Yogi.

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SOURCE: Mindy Weisberger 
LiveScience