Amazon Develops Drones that React to Human Gestures

March 28, 2018
Post by Gregory Lars Gunnerson

The technology of U.S. Patent No. 9,921,579, which issued on March 20, 2018, may help Amazon grapple with how flying robots might interact with human bystanders and customers waiting on their doorsteps. Apple engineer Frederik Schaffalitzky (formerly an engineer for Amazon) is the sole inventor responsible for these recent technological innovations.

While, the parent patent application to the above-identified patent issued as U.S. Patent No. 9,459,620 in July of 2016, this technology is now making waves because of increased publicity from several major news outlets, including an article from the Washington Post which is owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Some claims of the '579 patent require at least an unmanned aerial vehicle with a frame, a retaining system connected to the frame and configured to retain a package, a communication system connected to the frame and configured to receive gesture input, and a management module associated with at least the communication system. More specifically, the management module must be configured to navigate to a location associated with a profile of a human user. The management module then receives via the communication system a gesture input comprising a gesture by a human user. In response to receiving the gesture input, access gesture information describes one or more gestures capable of being recognized by the communication system. Finally, the management module determines, based on the gesture input and the gesture information, a behavior adjustment for the unmanned aerial vehicle with an instruction to the retaining system to release the package at the location.

Gregory “Lars” Gunnerson is a Patent Attorney in the Mechanical and Electrical Patent Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information please visit or contact Lars directly via email at

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