Amazon's drone deliveries could include shipping label parachutes

No one wants their stuff to shatter when it lands in the yard.

It's hard to believe it's been almost three years since Amazon announced its plan to deliver packages via drone. The first air delivery occurred last December in the UK and the retailer continues to refine the concept with futuristic ideas to perch the flying couriers on streetlights and deploy them from flying warehouses. In a new patent discovered by GeekWire, Amazon's next step is an "Aerial Package Delivery System," a delivery label that includes one of those parachutes that could make shipping via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that much easier.

The patent documents describe a simple workflow for delivery via drone parachute. The images show the steps, which include "Pack item, attach parachute shipping label," "Attach to UAV" and then "Drop at delivery location." The patent's abstract says that the system can include a self-adhesive backing, a "plurality of parachute cords" and a breakaway cover to land a package at a delivery spot without damaging it. The label may also include graphics and text to include an address, velocity and spin information on the package. The system may also include a harness to prevent cord tangling from any spinning during an item's descent.

Whether the parachute shipping label will ever grace a box full of gear from Amazon is anyone's guess, but this is certainly an interesting way to slow packages before they hit the ground. The company wants to keep its current delivery workflow process in place, writing in the patent that it wants any new aerial delivery system to be "preferably compact, self-contained and relatively inexpensive." That bodes well for those of us who can't wait to get their sundries from the sky.