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FAA approval for Amazon Prime Air drone delivery fleet - Amazon develops flight simulators to train delivery drones to avoid real-world crashes

Amazon develops flight simulators to train delivery drones to avoid real-world crashes

Details published by the European Patent Office show that Amazon has filed for a patent to teach autonomous drones about flight speed, lift-off, rolls, and landings with the use of flight simulators.

Amazon develops flight simulators to train delivery drones to avoid real-world crashes

Amazon is developing the flight simulators to improve the autonomous delivery drones so that the unmanned aircraft are better able to navigate drop-offs between homes without flying into any real-world obstacles.

With the “stereoscopic flight simulator”, the drones would be fixed to a table while test scenarios are played around them on video screens that mimic various distances and obstacles, the Evening Standard reports.

“This can reduce the time and expense required to assess new equipment by eliminating test flights and the costs associated therewith (e.g. fuel, weather, in-flight damage, wear and tear), the patent says.

“This can also enable specific scenarios to be tested repeatedly to isolate problems and eliminate test anomalies.”

The European Patent Office published the details about Amazon’s simulator program.

The online retail giant says the simulator is required for programming to “make the UAV ‘think’ it is actually flying” in order to make virtual drop-offs and prevent any real-world “unintended consequences”.

FAA approval for Amazon Prime Air drone delivery fleet - Amazon develops flight simulators to train delivery drones to avoid real-world crashes

Flight speed, lift-off, pitches, rolls, and landing, as well as change GPS coordinates, can all be simulated, according to the patent.

The simulator will also train the Amazon delivery drones to execute ‘emergency evasive maneuvers’, dodge trees, avoid no-fly zones, test out it’s climbing and acceleration capabilities, and practice docking at recharging stations.

Recently Amazon has started to put more resources into its drone delivery plans for the United Kingdom. The Daily Telegraph found information on LinkedIn last month, that suggests that Amazon has almost doubled it’s Cambridge based Prime Air team to more than 60 people, including ‘flight operators’.

In the United States, Amazon recently received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to start testing with its Prime Air drone delivery service. Similar permission would also be required from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the online retail giant to start testing in Britain.

Back in 2016, Amazon ran some drone delivery tests in rural Cambridgeshire airfield with approval from the CAA for orders weighing less than 6 pounds. Amazon declined to comment on the patent, or answer questions about the current phase of its drone delivery program.

 

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