Watch out! There’s a drone about!
Amazon are designing a drone that can talk to you, according to a Patent they’ve filed. They intend to use the propellers to generate noise that sounds like “Watch out!” so that you can jump out of the way and avoid a drone landing on your head.
While this might seem a bit far fetched, noise cancelling technology where one propeller’s sound is cancelled out by a second propeller already exists. In fact just about everything including your car exhaust is tuned by specialists to produce a pleasing sound. Tuning the noise generated by the propellers to make the drones as quite as possible makes sense if they’re to be used in residential areas, but too quite and an audible warning becomes essential if you get in the way.
What Amazon plan to do is to tweak the noise the propellers generate until it sounds like human speech. They also propose having LEDs flash on the spinning propellers to spell out a visible warning – again technology which already exists but they’ve applied for a patent specifically for use with drones.
One might wonder why they’d go to all this trouble when they could just strap a klaxon to their drones or wire up a loud speaker. The chances are that it’s all to do with weight and every couple of ounces of sound system takes a little away from the payload. By using an essential element such as the propellers Amazon propose to generate an audible or visible warning without having to add further weight to their drones.