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Drones; when they're not helping us break out of prison or roasting our Thanksgiving turkeys with a flamethrower, they're falling on our heads. Lucky for us, mega-retailer Amazon has come up with a solution to falling drones: exploding drones.
Yes, in anticipation of the company rolling out delivery drones to your rooftop like Isaac Asimov's version of Santa Claus, Amazon has been granted a patent on technology that will allow its drones to self-destruct in mid-air in an effort to preserve life on the ground. So, like Santa, the drone will disappear, leaving your presents falling blissfully to the earth.
Like an Explosion, but Nicer
Rather than use the potentially incendiary term "explode" in the patent, Amazon goes for the more calming and reassuring phrase "directed fragmentation":
The flight controller determines a flight path and controls a flight operation of the UAV. During the flight operation, the fragmentation controller develops a fragmentation sequence for one or more of the components based on the flight path, the flight conditions, and terrain topology information, among other factors. The fragmentation controller can also detect a disruption in the flight operation of the UAV and, in response, direct fragmentation of one or more of the components apart from the UAV. In that way, a controlled, directed fragmentation of the UAV can be accomplished upon any disruption to the flight operation of the UAV.
So if it looks like a drone is going down, it will explode into smaller, lighter pieces that are hopefully less harmful to the human bystanders beneath.
Best Sellers, Sans Delivery
There are two FAA regulations keeping drone delivery grounded at the moment: drones may not operate beyond the line of sight of a human pilot or observer, and they may not be flown over people. So while Amazon may not be able to drop 17 books, an Echo Dot, and some Crocs onto your doorstep just yet, the company is clearly anticipating possible injuries (and injury lawsuits) should that day come.
If you've been injured by a drone -- delivery or otherwise -- contact a local personal injury attorney.