Amazon explores using street lights as delivery drone perches

The robotic aircraft could charge and take shelter just about anywhere.

Amazon's Prime Air delivery drones already have a glaring problem: how do you keep them charged and sheltered when dedicated facilities are likely to be few and far between? The company has an idea. It recently received a patent for a "UAV docking station" concept that would offer a temporary perch for drones in need. If a drone runs low on battery or needs to take shelter from an impending storm, it would only have to travel to a station on top of a street light, cell tower, church steeple or another high-up location. The drone could even drop off a package for another drone, turning a delivery into an aerial relay race.

This is just a patent, so there's no guarantee that you'll see drones sitting on lamp posts like robotic pigeons. Amazon would need to get approval to install these stations. With that said, it's easy to see the online retailer using them in the long run. Current drone technology faces serious limits on range, and this would let Amazon complete courier runs that would otherwise be too distant or too risky.