IBM inventors have been granted a patent for transferring packages between drones during flight, the tech company has announced.
As described in U.S. Patent No. 9,561,852, the patent involves the in-flight transfer of packages between unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in order to help extend the range of UAS that are delivering packages from a warehouse to a customer’s home.
According to IBM, its invention can help mitigate some of the challenges of drone deliveries – e.g., limited flight range and a lack of delivery network optimization.
IBM explains that a customer expecting a package could dispatch a personal drone to receive and securely deliver the package to his home. Drone delivery network optimization could be provided to autonomous drones via the communications link described in the patent.
“Drones have the potential to change the way businesses operate, and by leveraging machine learning, drones could change ecommerce,” says Sarbajit Rakshit, IBM master inventor and co-inventor on the patent. “Our inventor team is focused on improving how the most valuable cargo is delivered globally. This could create opportunities such as managing drones to deliver postal packages and medicine in developing countries via the most direct route.”
IBM says its team has patented other inventions related to drones and drone-enabling technologies as part of the company’s supply chain and logistics work.