Microsoft has been granted a series of patents which can give way to potentially a new delivery system – an “En route product delivery” as described by Microsoft. This technique would permit product delivery to receive vehicles (that are on the way to a particular destination) by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
There are various procedures for this dynamic delivery system that have been recounted.
The flight path of the UAV may be updated in real time based on customer location, or be in sync with the location of the receiving vehicle; relevant flight paths can be planned via other data as well.
There is a possibility for customers to place an order on the go through their in-dash navigation systems or mobile phones, and receive the product during the same journey, during which identifiers such as the receiving vehicle’s license plate number may be used to recognize the vehicle; or there is a possibility where the UAV may have direct communication with the client’s computing device.
Two different approaches can be made regarding the final part of the delivery. On the one hand, the velocity of the UAV can be made to synchronize with the velocity of the receiving vehicle after which it could drop or lower the product through a roof opening. On the other hand, the Microsoft UAV delivery system could make use of a tether to deliver the product directly to the customer using, maybe, a side window.
There can be many other particularities that can be developed, such as product delivery only during compliance with certain local vehicular regulations such as speed limits; recognition ability of the UAV before completion of delivery, such as instances where the customer brings the vehicle to a complete stop, switches it to autopilot mode, or turns it off. There are many more implementations.
It must also be noted that Microsoft had filed for the patent in 2017.