Amazon patents drone with foldable wings

Foldable drone
A diagram shows Amazon’s foldable-wing drone in its configuration for takeoff and landing. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

Amazon has sought patents for hitchhiking drones, mini-drones that can sit on shoulders, drones that assemble themselves like Lego toys – and now drones that flip their wings to go from vertical to horizontal flight.

The hybrid foldable-wing design is covered in a patent that was published Jan. 24, following up on an application filed back in 2014.

When the drone takes off, the robo-plane’s jointed wings would be folded around to provide a stable base for a vertical takeoff, with the rotors spinning in a horizontal plane.

But once the drone gets up in the air, the wings and tail would stretch out to create an airplane-style configuration. The rotors would then be spinning in a vertical plane, like a traditional airplane’s propellers, to push the drone forward.

When it’s time to land, the drone’s wings and tail would fold up again for a vertical landing.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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