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Amazon granted patent for surveillance drones service



A new patent shows how drones can keep an eye out on a home while making deliveries. 


For years, Amazon has shown off how it’ll use drones to deliver items to customers, and it’s even developed a super-quiet drone for neighborhood deliveries. The company has a new patent that’ll give these flying robots a second use: surveillance.

Amazon received a patent for what it calls “Image creation using geo-fence data” from the US Patent and Trademark Office in early June. The application explains that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, could be used to provide a secondary service of checking on an individual’s property while the robots are out doing deliveries.

Surveillance drones patent figure

An image from the Amazon patent shows how drones will deliver and provide surveillance.

US Patent and Trademark Office/Amazon

As part of this service, customers can receive images or videos from the drones overlooking the property. UAVs would only be allowed to record the property of the individuals who consented and not those of their neighbors. 

“We take customer privacy very seriously,” John Tagle, senior PR manager for Amazon, said in an email Friday. “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.”

Like many patents granted to tech companies, there’s no telling if this drone security service will actually see the light of day. So far, Amazon’s plans for drones and autonomous vehicles are for deliveries sometime in the future.

Originally published June 21, 7:50 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:16 a.m. PT: Adds Amazon comment.


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