Amazon’s latest patent, called ‘Countermeasure for Threats to an Uncrewed Autonomous Vehicle’, was filed on November 17, 2014 and was published last week. If a drone is stuck with a rock, gun or even an arrow, the system will deploy ‘a protective device such as an airbag, foam, parachute, bumper and so forth’.
Or the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), could shift into a mode such as configuring autorotation of one or more rotors.
‘The foam may be configured to be deployed in response to a determination that a compromise to the UAV has occurred,’ the patent explains. ‘The foam may be designed to coat or cover at least a portion of one or more surfaces of the UAV’. ’The parachute may be aerodynamically or ballistically deployed.
Amazon gives an example of a person shooting the drone with a gun, which causes it to fall towards Earth.
‘The compromise module may detect the gunshot and loss altitude, and the fail-safe module may cause the parachute to deploy, which may reduce the severity of the impact between the UAV and another object, such as the ground’.
‘The countermeasures may reduce or eliminate ill-intentioned acts, inadvertent system failures, or mitigate the impact of such acts or failures,’ reads the patent.
‘If a malicious person attempts to gain control of the UAV, the compromise may be detected, and the UAV may enter a fail-safe mode in which the UAV returns to base or lands on the ground.’
Amazon’s method to protect its delivery drones from faceless hackers uses electronic systems that will detect signal jammers or other types of hacking attackers. If it appears there is some vulnerability, the system will select a frequency that seems to be less of a risk.
However, if hackers are able to infiltrate the system and take control of the drone, Amazon will be notified so it can send a second drone to its location that will act as a pair of eyes.
This rescue drone will access the attacked vehicle’s backup ‘comprise module’ and will guide the drone for a safe landing.