back to article Amazon granted patent to put parachutes inside shipping labels

Amazon has been given a patent on a system to deliver packages from the sky via on-board parachutes. The Bezos Bunch has filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office and been granted a patent for a system that will cram parachutes into shipping labels. The on-board parachute functions as you would think: an adhesive label on …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There once was a craze for toy parachutes launched from the ground. It was not unusual to see them dangling out of reach on an overhead telephone wire.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      This is Getting Out of Hand

      Indeed, and I don't see what value Amazon think this patent adds to their idea.

      If they're going to do delivery by drone, they're only going to be allowed to do so if the whole set up meets the requirements of the local aviation authorities. That means, amongst other things, that every aspect of drone flight, control and navigation is a safety critical system. We don't want drones buzzing around the place out of control, running out of battery power and landing on a motorway, crashing on to people, etc.

      Given that here in the UK at least the whole remote drone / UAV community has effectively been told "your systems will have to be certified as safety critical", one does wonder why anyone is persisting with the idea. Achieving certification for things as madly complicated as this is going to be ludicrously expensive. Realisation will eventually dawn I'm sure, but not until after a lot of people who should know better have spent a lot of someone elses money on false pretences.

      [Rabbit hole. When that realisation dawns it'll be very bad for the tech sector as a whole; if investors start thinking that the tech industry is leading them up the garden path with drone this, self-driving that, AI the next thing, then investment in tech could easily dry up altogether. There's a lot of money being poured into a lot of very ambitious projects that really have very little prospect of succeeding even if you did throw $billions at them, and investors will remember...]

      However, if by some miracle they actually managed to achieve some sort of certification, they'd have produced a drone system that doesn't drop need to randomly drop packages by parachute, so they won't need it.

      Pond

      In fact, dropping something by 'chute sounds like a way of introducing uncontrollable randomness into where the package actually ends up, which can be only a bad thing. What's to stop the package drifting off and landing in, for example, my pond? Are they also planning on using IP68 packaging? I can't see how they'd make that simple to open...

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: This is Getting Out of Hand

        and investors will remember...

        Doesn't seem to have stopped any number of asset bubbles in the past. The dot com bubble certainly didn't put investors off.

      2. PNGuinn
        Trollface

        Re: This is Getting Out of Hand

        "In fact, dropping something by 'chute sounds like a way of introducing uncontrollable randomness into where the package actually ends up"

        So, prior art then.

      3. Nolveys Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: This is Getting Out of Hand

        @bazza

        We don't want drones buzzing around the place out of control, running out of battery power and landing on a motorway, crashing on to people, etc.

        Speak for yourself.

      4. itzman
        Thumb Down

        Re: This is Getting Out of Hand

        Well I already had one Amazon delivery that I found three weeks later after a period of intense rain languishing in the middle of the side garden after amazon claimed to have delivered it to the front porch.

        So it will merely formalize the random delivery of parcels into accessible recondite areas of unsuitable delivery.

        As I boy I spent many hours searching for model planes that had unexpectedly actually flown well enough to be outside of a 50 yard radius from launch.

        Perhaps this will be part of a 'citizens fitness' initiative.

      5. sabba

        Re: This is Getting Out of Hand

        There are likely two reasons for this patent. Firstly, it keeps the competitors guessing. Secondly, it's a market disruptor. Are they ever likely to use it? I doubt it. But if they do find some way to make it feasible then the presence of the patent makes it harder for their competitors to copy and probably dissuades them from exploring similar avenues. To be honest: enclosing a parachute in a container - how is that even allowed as a patent?

      6. Baldrickk Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: This is Getting Out of Hand

        "Pond

        In fact, dropping something by 'chute sounds like a way of introducing uncontrollable randomness into where the package actually ends up, which can be only a bad thing. What's to stop the package drifting off and landing in, for example, my pond? "

        At least with all the bubble-wrap it'll float

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      I now live in a country where there are no overhead power or coms lines in residential areas and most city centers. I'm told there are many advantages.

      1. Swiss Anton

        "...no overhead power or coms lines in residential areas..."

        No overhead wires here either, but within a 100 ft of where I'm sitting there is a big tree, some lampposts and of course the roofs of the houses in my street.

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          "No overhead wires here either, but within a 100 ft of where I'm sitting there is a big tree, some lampposts and of course the roofs of the houses in my street."

          The same here, plus being under the landing path of a small-ish airport (busy with private jets, not airlines or light aircraft)

          I'm sure delivery drones would be well received...

    3. Amorous Cowherder
      Facepalm

      Can wait for the first lawsuit for several million dollars when some kid gets put into a coma by a falling box of spanners ordered off Bezos tat market.

  2. chuckufarley
    WTF?

    Ooooh, It Makes Me Wonder...

    ...what percentage of sky diving parachutes have suffered some form of malfunction in the past decade.

    It *really* makes me wonder...

    1. Rustbucket

      Re: Ooooh, It Makes Me Wonder...

      Probably far fewer failures than parcels mis-delivered by land going couriers.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Ooooh, It Makes Me Wonder...

        "Probably far fewer failures than parcels mis-delivered by land going couriers."

        Does a mis-delivery have the same kind of, well, impact?

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Coat

      Re: Ooooh, It Makes Me Wonder...

      "...what percentage of sky diving parachutes have suffered some form of malfunction in the past decade."

      It's a very hard statistic to collect as, for some reason, very few of the failed-parachute owners ever return them for refund.

    3. Orv Silver badge

      A quick Google search for parachute failures netted figures between 1 in 333 and 1 in 1000, with the most reputable estimates seeming to be around 1 in 750.

      Keep in mind recreational skydivers carry a reserve 'chute as well as their main 'chute, and the reserves have a pretty low failure rate, so most of these aren't fatalities.

      I don't think 1 in every 1000 packages plummeting from the sky is going to be very successful, although I am reminded of the Schlock Mercenary observation that "anything can be air-dropped at least once."

      1. Ochib
        Headmaster

        The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

        11. Everything is air-droppable at least once

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          Re: The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

          Numbers 14: ("Mad Science" means never stopping to ask "what's the worst thing that could happen?") and 32 (Anything is amphibious if you can get it back out of the water) also seem to apply here.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ooooh, It Makes Me Wonder...

      Well, if it gets tangled in overhead lines, as mentioned earlier in the thread, then she might want to reconsider buying a stairway to heaven and start looking at cherry pickers instead.

  3. Bruce Ordway

    Depending where you wnat to land

    I thought I saw Amazon is already using parachutes to drop packages in Africa?

    Seemed like a good idea..... for remote areas.

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Headmaster

      Re: Depending where you wnat to land

      The one I remembered was using longer-range winged variety (possibly actual UAVs?) but couldn't remember where from - from the report is looked like they had started with a fairly Heath-Robinson setup and worked from there.

      A few examples => mentioned here though I couldn't be sure if any were the one I remembered...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All I need now is a net with a long handle to catch falling packages.

    I wonder how Amazon would stop that from happening.

    1. AndyS

      I don't quite understand this fear. It's not like it's ever been hard to steal packages from people's porches, front gardens, garden sheds etc.

      What is stopping people is, mostly, honesty, and that will continue to stop most people. Of course those who that won't stop, already aren't stopped from stealing.

    2. Robert Moore
      Joke

      I believe you can buy long handled nets on Amazon. :)

      Not sure if they will ever be delivered though.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how about a shark shipping label ...

    ... for deliveries in, or near aquatic environments? This will have the added benefit of saving me the bother of gluing my new lasers to a fresh shark each time I upgrade.

  6. redpawn Silver badge

    It would work if..

    the shipping label also deployed a harpoon and a spool of monofilament. A ballistic harpoon would leave the package targeting the delivery site and a small motor would spool the line in so the parachute would land the package on target every time, thus avoiding the problem of shifting wind.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: It would work if..

      Excellent, it sounds like we've nailed down all the safety issues at this point and the product is ready to pierce the market.

      1. MrT

        Re: It would work if..

        ... there was some way to embed an anchor point sensor into logos from Nickleson, McKenzie, Schott, Fubu, Eto, No Fear, Carbrini, Paul's Boutique, Superdry, Lonsdale, etc. IoT - Internet of Targets. It might clear the streets a bit, but one of the downsides​ is that all deliveries made this way would end up sat outside the nearest Sports Direct store...

    2. PNGuinn
      Holmes

      Re: It would work if.. @redpawn

      If they could ensure accuracy of the harpoon it would also drastically reduce the number of customer returns ...

    3. Trollslayer Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: It would work if..

      Unless there was a bug that made it target the customer not the address.

    4. Blofeld's Cat
      Childcatcher

      Re: It would work if..

      Perhaps we should do away with the drone and parachute and instead deliver the packages by harpoon...

      FX: Whoosh, thud, distant cry of pain, phone rings

      Ahab: "Call me back Ishmael, I've got more deliveries to make."

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    One of the things you can't do in the UK

    under the Air Navigation Orders, is to cause anything to be dropped from an aircraft other than pure water or clean fine sand (ballast, basically). The military get an exemption for go-bang stuff, and parachutists are considered aircraft in their own right (but who on earth would get out of a perfectly good aircraft and hope theirs starts to work on the way down?).

    Hard to see which category a parcel of books fits into.

    1. MrT

      Re: One of the things you can't do in the UK

      Books might be heavy, but sit at the more friendly end of Amazon's freefall ordnance catalogue. Back to WW1 with a nice box of lawn darts...?

    2. Mage Silver badge

      USPTO

      Bigger idiots than Amazon.

    3. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: One of the things you can't do in the UK

      (but who on earth would get out of a perfectly good aircraft and hope theirs starts to work on the way down?).

      Have done it once and would jump at the chance to do it again.

      Short of a couple of religious experiences, Skydiving is the most fun thing I've ever done in my life, and I am someone quite scared of heights. I got to do a tandem jump some years back and would love to be able to do it again! Doesn't last nearly as long as mountain climbing (which I've done a bit of), but is way more fun and you get the view without the massive workout! :)

      Thoroughly recommend it to anyone else!

      (Again, El Reg is lacking anything even close to an appropriate icon)

  8. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Air mail..

    Does it also specify the load baring rate of the box and adhesive properties in low temperatures?

    Not to mention moist weather.

    Just imagine, one short sharp jolt as the parachute opens and suddenly it's raining contents as the box falls apart.

    Maybe an air raid siren might be in order to warn people below?

  9. Dave Bell

    I though a patent was supposed to describe the invention in sufficient detail to make a working copy

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Sounds to me like a bogus patent to stifle potential innovation by competitors. With the news, everybody now knows Amazon is working with the idea of parachute parcels (and they have exclusive patent on it). If it comes to nothing, no worries. But if it's the new big thing - let's talk licencing! (kerching!!!)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sounds to me like a bogus patent to stifle potential innovation by competitors.

        Sounds to me like a pointless patent from a department who's KPIs and bonuses include a target for number of patents filed. Amazon don't see themselves as the same "big warehouse + tax dodging webshop" that the rest of us do, they think they're a cutting edge technology company, the sort that thrives on intellectual property. There will be entire divisions devoted to research, and to prove their worth they'll be patenting anything they can, regardless of real world value.

        If there's nothing else, they'll happily patent "Disclosed is a unique and innovative system of lifting one buttock to reduce stress on the anal sphincter, thus reducing the probability of noisy flatus" and hope that (as usual) USPO ignore all the evidence of prior art.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        The patent does describe using a delivery box....

        So just use a different shape. Problem solved.

        (Delivery cones anyone? And if its delivering more than one package does that make it a MIRV platform?)

    2. The Mole

      They are also meant to be inventive.

      I'm pretty sure delivering goods by dropping them out of aircraft attached to parachutes is not inventive.

      Having labels on them describing where they should be dropped isn't inventive.

      Self adhesive parachute connectors may be inventive I guess - after all most people would want a better guarantee that the parachute stays attached to the cargo all the way down.

  10. DougS Silver badge

    Just what I always wanted

    To have my packages conveniently delivered onto my roof, or a neighbor's tree!

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Just what I always wanted

      Just what I always wanted

      To have my packages conveniently delivered onto my roof, or a neighbor's tree!

      At least Amazon can't patent that idea because it's already been done...

  11. Milton Silver badge

    Why?

    Why would a well worn idea - dropping stuff by chute - get a patent from anyone?

    Why would Amazon think this is any less dangerous than thousands of drones flying over populated areas?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Or indeed most of the stuff the USPTO approves.

      It's SIMPLE.

      They get more income from approvals and searching costs money. The "real" system is to unapprove by taking a court case.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: Why?

      "Why would a well worn idea - dropping stuff by chute - get a patent from anyone?"

      Sigh...did you even look at what is being patented?

      Hint, it's not a parachute,.

  12. heyrick Silver badge

    It would also solve some of the issues surrounding drones flying at low altitudes near power lines and other potential hazards.

    Solve...? Solve? If there are hazards to flying smallish "controllable" devices, how does dropping a very much larger and completely uncontrollable parachute solve anything?

  13. HKmk23

    Perhaps

    This is why Kim Kong Unhinged is developing missile technology.... to handle returns? Glad I don't live anywhere near Amazon Way, Dunfermline in Fife!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps

      Returns are easily handled if the 'Monofilament' idea is used !!! :)

      You have in the package a small 'Dayglo' Balloon with a canister of Helium (size of a CO2 bulb for a Soda Syphon).

      You attach the Balloon to the Monofilament and the package to the other end.

      Release the Balloon and the balloon acts as a target for a slow motion 'Skyhook' manoeuvre by drone.

      The drone can then wind up the Monofilament to obtain the package.

      [All perfectly safe, no bursts Balloons, snapped Monofilament or packages bursting open !!! :) ]

      When flying taxis are allowed, we can go for the real 'Skyhook' manoeuvre, under contract to Amazon via UberAir or whoever :)

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps

        I can see a few problems with that.... namely a stiff breeze being the first that springs to mind.

        Then there's also leaving a package outside with a highly visible balloon on it.. just asking to be checked out by the local people of light fingered persuasion.

        Then there's relying a customer to ensure that the balloon is tied correctly so it doesn't loose pressure before it's been collected.

        There's also issues if there's a local powerline/telephone line or if the customer lives in an apartment..

        All in all, good idea but massively impractical

  14. PNGuinn
    Facepalm

    It is at this point worth noting that a patent is a long way from a finished product,

    About 500 feet and a bad headache?

    >>Ouch

    1. MrT

      Re: It is at this point worth noting that a patent is a long way from a finished product,

      The 'Your Amazon' home page may have a new section, though...

      "Because you have had goods airdropped by drone delivery service:" followed by a line of things like Neurofen, bandages, witch hazel, ice packs, arnica, etc...

  15. Timbo

    Isn't it about time that the delivery firms actually asked customers at what time of day (and on which day) they wanted their delivery to arrive? If the supermarkets can do this for food and other comestibles why not couriers?

    Why do we still have an antiquated 18th C delivery model, when most people are at work when the couriers want to deliver?

    In fact: a better idea - get the couriers to deliver to a nominated supermarket and then they can deliver your items along with your shopping.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Antiquated?

      British postal and parcel services to GB and Ireland were better in the Victorian era.

      I don't know how good the 18th was.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Antiquated?

        I don't know how good the 18th was.

        Smooth, Mage, smooth.

    2. alpine

      UK mail have a very good one hour window tracking system, and you can change the window the day before delivery if required. And watch the progress of the driver and the package count he's up to.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Get couriers to deliver to a nominated supermarket"

      At least one courier (DPD?) in the UK has a network of shops which will can be used like this - get your parcel delivered to the shop, and pick it up later. They are "useful" shops too, in that they are open in the evenings. My local Sainsbury's was on the list when I looked into using it.

      A co-worker has used it successfully once, but was put off when he was able to collect a parcel by walking up to the Customer Service counter and saying "I'm here to pick up a parcel". He was given the parcel with no ID check, and no requirement to sign for it.

      I didn't risk using it, and opted to wait in all day on a Saturday.

      1. TheTor

        Re: "Get couriers to deliver to a nominated supermarket"

        DPD suck balls though.

        "Hi, we are going to deliver your package on a day we know you wont be there. Re-arrange delivery through our website if you arent going to be available, or pick a nominated safe place, etc".

        OK, let's log on to their website and pick the 'leave in a safe place - enclosed front porch' option.

        At work the next day, receive a text message - 'We attempted to deliver today, but no one was available to accept the package'...

        OK. Perhaps the delivery guy didn't read the instructions too closely, so let just save trouble and rearrange delivery to my local pickup stop - a newsagents just down the road. Confirmation text message received the next morning that my package would be delivered according to my preferences later that day. While at work, I receive another text saying my package wouldn't be delivered to my pickup location, as the item was 'unsuitable' for store delivery and would be delivered to my home address (which of course meant I wouldn't be there yet again).

        OK, let's log on yet again and pick the 'deliver to a neighbour' option.

        On the way home the next evening, after not receiving any more messages, decided to check the tracking. Apparently the item was 'picked up from the depot' (on the far side of London) from someone called 'DISPOSED EMPTY'. Apparently they considered their job adequately complete at that point.

        The item in question? a £2 fidget spinner (not for me I might add!) that could have fit through my letterbox, that didn't even require a signature...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delivery method

    Current multi-rotor drones, powered by lithium batteries, won't have the required efficiency, durability or flight time.

    Therefore, the delivery radius will be quite short, they will need to return to base quite often, they will need to spend a lot of time & battery juice slowing down and speeding up. All of this will reduce the total number of deliveries per hour.

    What's necessary, from an Amazon efficiency perspective, is a drone that can carry the optimal number of packages, to the most homes, within the shortest timeframe. Battery drones cannot do this - the *only* option is a fixed-wing drone that can carry multiple items to many homes, delivering items very accuratesly, and will last a long time in the air for the occasional house that is further away than all the others. Perhaps Amazon could add, say, a 20p surcharge for deliveries away from "clustered" homes.

    Ultimately, I think Amazon will move to a fixed-wing "divebombing" style delivery sytem - drones will swoop down to deploy one or more individual "packagelets", which means that the parachute system will be more accurate.

    People could also have the option of buying their own "packagelet" collection net, and they would get a very small discount on each order due to Amazon not needing to use their parachute delivery mechanism.

    If there is no significant advancement in battery technology, then my expectation is that when civilians move to an electric car infrastructure, there will be a period where drones will use the surplus of cheap petrol. (supply/demand = cheap oil)

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Delivery method

      I won't downvote you, but... there are two options. They have already trialed transition to vertical flight versions of the drones and why not just limit this to small local delivery points? We have already transitioned to local supermarket deliveries here... Or is that, milk float -> buying from the supermarket -> supermarket delivering milk.

      This reminds me of the re-invention of the 3d tele/cinema every few years, and that can be traced back 100 years to stereographs! But here it is delivery methods, where really anyone could be delivering this, and the drone is generally just changing who gets the money (until real benefits of scale and automation kick in).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Delivery method

      Current multi-rotor drones....

      So, if they could parachute tat to the masses, why would they be using a rotor drone? The obvious examples of drone deliveries to date have involved fixed wing techniques, albeit with the last mile managed by rocketry rather than parachute.

      If they could use fixed wing drones, now THAT might revolutionise merchandise delivery. Other than for the dismal success rate likely from parachute deliveries.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SOE

    I would have thought SOE would have all the necessary prior art on this one. Isn't putting the parachute inside the shipping label a trivial extension to dropping stuff all over Occupied Europe during WW2? As the arrangements were often made by secure radio communication, it would seem that all the technology of goods delivery by aircraft + drop should be now long out of any patentability.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: SOE

      Especially the Berlin Candy Bomber, when it comes to deliver small packets by parachute.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SOE

        "Especially the Berlin Candy Bomber, when it comes to deliver small packets by parachute."

        If Amazon was around then they'd be charging the kids a monthly fee for Prime candy drop, otherwise you just get sugar free Gummi Bears.

        1. TheTor

          Re: SOE

          https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B008JELLCA/

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: SOE

      Calling it a lablel with an integrated parachute is the weirdness that caught my eye. It's a flat packed parachute with a label attached. Worse, they are even trying to include as part of the patent the idea of putting coloured logos on the label. I think that may have a smidge of prior art too.

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    WE delivered your parcel today!

    said the email.

    Customer looks for said parcel and can't find it.

    The complain to Amazon who supply photographic evidence.

    Customer finds the parcel snagged on the TV Ariel on the roof.

    Cost customer another £20 to get someone to go up on the roof to get the goods. So much for free delivery.

    Customer vows never to use Amazon again.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: WE delivered your parcel today!

      Customer vows never to use Amazon again

      If that isn't illegal already it soon will be.

      First Commandment: You shall have no other Gods but me. (No change)

      Second Commandment: You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it unless the idol is Amazon or its founder. (Only a small addition)

      Third commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Bezos your God. (Only a small change)

      You get the idea...

  19. stephanh

    a reasonable alternative

    What about launching the packages directly from China by ICBM?

    1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

      Re: a reasonable alternative

      You may be joking but I'm quite sure the Chinese have prior art on dropping things on US soil.

      Edited for spellin :p

  20. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Oh what fun one can have with a drone and a sky hook

    those 85" tellies might slow it down a bit mind.

    1. moiety

      Re: Oh what fun one can have with a drone and a sky hook

      On a similar note, I was working out a list of who to send anvils to...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Oh what fun one can have with a drone and a sky hook

        "On a similar note, I was working out a list of who to send anvils to..."

        If your name is Wyle E. Coyote, then you probably shouldn't.

        1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

          Re: Oh what fun one can have with a drone and a sky hook

          A sky hook is like a bill hook for a reallllllly big bird.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Oh what fun one can have with a drone and a sky hook

      With an 85" telly, just put it in a proper aerodynamic box and you can use it as additional wings to increase lift. You can probably also launch it far above and have it glide to destination.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And This Is Progress?

    How exactly?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: And This Is Progress?

      Progress as in the Russian cargo to deliver stuff to the ISS.

  22. Chris G Silver badge

    Forget parachutes

    Use catapults/slingshots (for leftpondians) from local depots to deliver ballistically.

    Here is a guy who should be able to come up with the goods: (NSFW) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFISeJ1N5CQ

    A German with a sense of humour and genuinely innovative engineering skills.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Forget parachutes

      If you hear the phrase "stell' dich nicht so an", brace yourself and prepare for pain.

  23. Pompous Git Silver badge

    What I want to know is...

    ... will women be making their underwear from the parachute silk like they did when I were a lad.

  24. IGnatius T Foobar

    Amazonopoly

    I truly and sincerely hope that Jeff Bezos is killed in a parachuting accident.

  25. Anonymous IV

    Bruce Springsteen

    Didn't one of his songs have a deep and meaningful end section relevant to this situation?

    Ah yes...

    "I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, hey bopa d-d-down

    I'm goin down, down, down, down

    I'm goin down, hey bopa d-d-down

    I'm goin down, down, down, yeah

    I'm goin down, down, hey bopa hey bopa

    Hey hey mmm bopa bopa well down

    Hey babe mmm bopa bopa said down

    Hey hey mmm bopa bopa well down

    Hey hey mmm bopa bopa say

    Hey unh say down, down, down, down, down

    Hey down now, say down, down, down, down, down"

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patent identification

    "a plurality of parachute cords"

    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck ...... but if it uses the word 'plurality' it can only be a patent!

  27. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
  28. Orv Silver badge

    Do they have another patent for doing returns via Fulton recovery?

  29. JLV Silver badge

    Great idea

    http://photo.charliechaplin.com/images/6364-gd-126-jpg

    and... what happens if the package is marked as delivered but ended up in your nasty neighbor's yard?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what happens if you order parachute labels?

  31. Dwarf Silver badge

    Glue, Rain and Hedges

    I wonder how they will affix the shipping labels to the parcel to stop them coming off when the parachute deploys - after all the shipping material is only made up of paper or cardboard. Sometimes they are stuck on really well, other times they have nearly fallen off by the time they get to you - and that's without some huge jerk as the parachute opens up to slow them down.

    The application of a little drop of water that is traditional in these parts clearly won't help with structural integrity of the parcel and its safe arrival either.

    Anyone want to guess how many parcels will have proof of delivery showing something like "delivery location:" Roof / pond / top of hedge / neighbours garden.

    Second thought - note to self, don't order anything fragile or of value off Amazon until this idea has passed by.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clickbait for patent sharks..

    We have seen many ridiculous patents lately, from applicants who will most likely never use any of them. All big companies seems to be playing this game.

    "If WE have the patent, The Others can't sue us for breaking them!"

  33. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    This does have potential

    They could dispense with the drones, and just fire your parcel directly from an artillery base/distribution warehouse. sticky-taping a handkerchief to the label will ensure safe delivery to the correct address and all will be wonderful.

    This is probably worthy of a patent in its own right.

  34. Rob D.
    Stop

    Future consumer law exam questions

    Consumer Law Section:

    Your client has ordered an embarrassing item from Amazon but on delivery the drone flew through the legally private airspace of Neighbour A, snagged on a branch in a tree of Neighbour B, which then broke depositing the package through the roof of Neighbour C's greenhouse causing $2,000 of damage.

    Q1. Who is liable for the damage to the greenhouse?

    Q2. Can your client sue for damages caused by the inadvertent disclosure of their embarrassing personal proclivities to Neighbour C from whom they retrieved the package?

    Q3. If instead the package was actually ordered from and delivered by Best Buy who are using an innovative and novel 'singular' parachute cord in their delivery system for which they have a valid patent with USPTO but an ongoing, unresolved dispute with Amazon regarding who has the silliest patent. Does this permit an uplift in litigation costs and should you re-apply as a patent lawyer?

  35. Neoc

    Someone tell me...

    ...how the hell this will work for apartment blocks?

    1. pleb

      Re: Someone tell me...

      "...how the hell this will work for apartment blocks?"

      It won't work for appartment blocks. Perhaps you could tell us how the delivery person on foot, who does deliver to appartment blocks, is going to deliver to remote and isolated rural addresses.

      Of course if you look only for the cases where it won't work...

  36. GrapeBunch Silver badge

    Amanita

    The Amanita species are responsible for 95% of all parachute fatalities.

  37. pleb

    It won't work because...

    Amazing how easy it is to say why innovation won't work. Maybe The Reg could dredge up a collection of historical pronouncements about why various things we now accept as unremarkable could never work or catch on.

  38. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    You can patent effing anything.

    So now the pouch for the parachute has a label on it, and it's patentable?

    FFS!

  39. conscience
    Stop

    Blitzkrieg

    And what happens at busy times like Christmas? There would be so many parcels falling that it'd be like the Blitz!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In first

    "Parcel Cannon", a device used to apply acceleration to a parcel or package for the purposes of delivery. Acceleration to be achieved via transformation of any energy source directly or indirectly into kinetic energy imparted to parcel/package

    I give this concept of a device for firing parcels either from the air/sea/land or space to the public domain.

  41. muddysteve

    Manna from Heaven

    My dog is going to love new chew toys dropping from the sky for her.

  42. Pat Harkin

    From exactly what height will these be dropped?

    If it's low, the chute won't open.

    If it's high, there'll be a significant sideways drift in the breeze.

    Good luck in the more affluent cities where everyone has a swimming pool...

  43. Paul Woodhouse

    hmm, I see this as being the final stage for delivery once they get their warehouses up in orbit with a huge line of cannons on the side for sending out the packages...

    *shit*... think I've not had enough coffee yet today

  44. DagD

    Watch out for the dust devils.

    I think back to my sky diving days, and wonder what sort of plan they have to "disengage" the shoot once it hits the ground.

    Oh well, all it will take is for one bird to get caught up in a shoot, or some endanged frog to get squashed and PETA will shut it down.

  45. Hairy Spod
    Mushroom

    Military Applications

    having cornered the civilian market place, me thinks this is Amazon branching out into military supply and DARPA budget

  46. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    People who ordered these dumbbells...

    ...Also ordered this Crash Helmet.

    Do you want all items to be delivered at the same time?

    No, I would like the crash helmet to be delivered first please.

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