Amazon to offer home surveillance using delivery drones, patent shows
Amazon could be using its delivery drones for a subscription home surveillance service, according to a patent filed by the company.
The patent is for an unmanned aerial vehicle to “perform a surveillance action at a property of an authorized party” which would be set by “a virtual perimeter or boundary around a real-world geographic area.”
Any images outside of that perimeter -- which would be “verified as belonging to a user” -- would be removed or obscured to protect other people's privacy, the patent says.
The patent claims the camera and sensor-laden drones would be a better monitoring tool for home surveillance than fixed cameras that can miss events outside their scope or can be more easily damaged by intruders.
Customers would be able to subscribe to various kinds of surveillance, according to the document, which was filed on June 12, 2015, and approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 4 this year.
The surveillance service would apparently be a “secondary task” of Amazon’s drones, which would have the primary task of delivering packages.
John Tagle, a representative for Amazon's Prime Air team, told FOX Business the technology described in the patent would not gather information on anyone's property without permission.
"Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect our current product roadmap," Tagle told FOX Business on Friday. "We take customer privacy very seriously. Some reports have suggested that this technology would spy or gather data on homes without authorization – to be clear, that’s not what the patent says. The patent clearly states that it would be an opt-in service available to customers who authorize monitoring of their home."
The company has been working on drone delivery for years. Back in December 2013, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos told "60 Minutes" that drones would be flying to customer's homes within five years. But that deadline passed due to regulatory hurdles.
Amazon said it plans to use drones to deliver packages in the coming months, though it didn’t give an exact timing on when the technology would be implemented or where.
Jeff Wilke, who oversees Amazon's retail business, said on June 5 that the company is working with several regulatory agencies to get approval for its drones.
"We expect to do it within months," he said.
He also said the drones are fully electric, can fly up to 15 miles, deliver in 30 minutes and carry goods that weigh up to 5 pounds, like a paperback book or toothpaste.
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The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the commercial use of drones in the U.S., did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the announcement. In April, a subsidiary of search giant Google won approval from the FAA to make drone deliveries in parts of Virginia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.