Foldable Wing Drone – Amazon’s Next Delivery UAV?

foldable wing drone

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A new patent published recently describes a foldable wing drone – a drone that flips its wings to go from vertical to horizontal flight. As per the patent filed by Amazon, 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. In their filing, Amazon’s inventors compare the craft to a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey military aircraft, which tilts its rotors from vertical to horizontal, depending on whether it’s taking off or moving ahead.

According to, the system could be well-suited for Amazon’s delivery drones, which have to lift off with packages weighing up to 5 pounds and then fly away horizontally at speeds of up to 50 mph to make deliveries within a half-hour.

It’s still unclear whether Amazon would actually develop such drone. The company has said there’s likely to be different types of drone designs for different environments.

The type of drone that made the first commercial Amazon deliveries in England last month looks more like a traditional quadcopter, while the test drone that made its debut in 2015 has vertical as well as horizontal rotors.

Yet another Amazon patent published recently covers a system for determining the center of gravity for a payload that’s put on a delivery drone, and then making adjustments so that the craft is optimally balanced when it takes off.

The processing system could shift the position of the payload on the drone’s carrier, just to make sure it’s stable. It could even judge whether the contents of a package might shift around too much during flight. If so, the payload could be automatically flagged for repackaging or for an alternate delivery method.

Additional patents published recently address procedures to recharge a drone’s batteries in flight by taking advantage of wind power or other types of airflow, and an autonomous delivery transportation network. The flood of patents demonstrates that Amazon is taking innovation in delivery systems seriously, according to