Amazon got clearance to build drones that can carry out surveillance on customers’ homes between deliveries

June 22, 2019 in News by RBN Staff


  • Amazon was granted a patent earlier this month for surveillance drones.
  • The patent describes how the drones could be primarily used for delivery, but could be asked by customers to check up on their properties.
  • Amazon unveiled its new delivery drone earlier this month, and said it expects deliveries to commence “within months.”
  • Amazon told Business Insider that the “patent clearly states that it would be an opt-in service available to customers who authorize monitoring of their home.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The patent was submitted by Amazon in 2015 and granted approval earlier this month, as first spotted by Quartz. The patent describes how delivery drones could drop in on consenting customers’ houses to check them for things like open garage doors, graffiti, or even a fire.

In order to safeguard the security of neigboring houses, which haven’t given their permission to be filmed by the drones, the patent stipulates that geofencing technology could control the drone’s movements, and “geo-clipped images” would mean the drone would only provide footage of the house it’s supposed to be checking up on.

Read more: Amazon has a lot of questions to answer about its new drone service

Amazon surveillance drone diagram
This diagram shows a drone making a delivery, then swinging by another customer’s house to do some surveillance, before heading back to its origin location.
 Amazon/United States Patent and Trademark Office

The patent being granted is no guarantee the security drones will ever see the light of day, or even that Amazon wants to build them. Tech companies frequently patent technology they have no intention of actually making in an effort to head off competitors.

“Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect our current product roadmap,” Amazon spokesperson John Tagle told Business Insider in a statement. “We take customer privacy very seriously. Some reports have suggested that this technology would spy or gather data on homes without authorization – to be clear, that’s not what the patent says. The patent clearly states that it would be an opt-in service available to customers who authorize monitoring of their home.”