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Amazon patents drone surveillance as a service

Drone surveillance plan
A diagram shows how Amazon’s patented geofencing arrangement would zero in on a potential break-in while screening out a view of the house next door. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

Amazon has patented a system for providing home security surveillance as a service, but the real innovation has to do with avoiding surveillance of the home next door.

Just don’t expect to sign up for the service, or freak out over it, anytime soon.

For one thing, Amazon patents lots of ideas that never see the light of day. (Remember Jeff Bezos’ airbag-equipped smartphone?) For another, the newly published patent sprang from an application that was filed four years previously — and Amazon’s strategy for drone operations as well as security services has almost certainly evolved since 2015.

A big roadblock to surveillance drones is that the Federal Aviation Administration is still working out the regulations regarding commercial drone flights in neighborhoods — particularly when the flights are done autonomously, beyond the operator’s line of sight. (Even drone surveillance of industrial facilities such as railyards can spark controversy.)

The patent application, attributed to inventors Kalidas Yeturu and Howard Lee Huddleston Jr., calls for making use of the drones that Amazon is developing for package deliveries.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

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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