The Flappy Arms Patent: How Amazon imagines people will flag down drones

Mar 30, 2018 at 03:00 pm by Warlord720

The Flapping Arms Patent

The company that will one day rule the universe while providing what to watch, what to read, what to wear, wirelessly taking over our homes and shipping bunion ointment has been granted the patent on flapping arms… among other things.

Patent Number: US9459620 was granted to the forward-thinking operators at Amazon.

The eCommerce colossus has long experimented with drone delivery, which, if nothing else, will make living in cities very interesting until the government decides to regulate it and make it even more interesting.

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Packages have already been delivered by this method during tests and demos. If I had to take an uneducated guess (which encompasses most of my guesses) I’d say they have learned a thing a two about landing drones in the wild versus the lab.

Hence the flapping arms patent. It makes absolute sense when you think of it. Wouldn’t you really like to know the juicy details of the incident or incidents that brought this concept to mind? Love to have been a fly on that proverbial test wall.

Did it try to land on someone’s head or did a cranky old neighbor like myself run outside screaming and flapping his arms to tell it the demon machine to get the hell out his yard? You KNOW this is going to happen a lot.

Then there’s your sweet grandma flapping her arms and yelling trying to get the darn thing to land over on her yard where it’s supposed to be in the first place. "Dadgum thing was trying to give my prune juice to my neighbor... never liked her anyway!" 

Let’s not forget shotgun blast avoidance. Not sure if that is in the patent but where I come from it needs to be. It will need to be programmed to hightail it out of range mighty pronto.

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I can see this becoming the next redneck outdoor target sport.

Beer, bullets and buddies.

Or, to up the ante, a bit further some enterprising individual will eventually design a shoulder-launched drone hunter/killer that will knock the thing out of the sky. Apps and equipment will be designed to hack and commandeer the drones for hijacking the cargo forcing the drones up into commercial airspace.

Wouldn’t you love to be an air controller then?

This might become such a craze that one might shoot their own package delivery out of the sky before realizing that was grandma’s much-needed bunion ointment.

Back to the flapping arms as this just covers us rednecks… what about you urban types?

I’m seeing a butterfly effect here. You get enough urbanites flapping their arms at drones in a large enough area and we might reverse climate change or at least cause one hell of a wind.  

What about competing flappers? You know… more than one giving the same “come over here” signal. If one group is larger than the other will that sway the drone into a hijacked delivery?

Then there are the kids that will think it’s cool to confuse delivery drones. Dennis the Mechanical Menace strikes again.

Levity aside it takes forward thinking to design for such things even though the patent may, on the surface, sound patently ridiculous.

Drones, piloted or AI, might be in our future but it could be awhile before it happens in the United States. There has been more success in testing abroad where they are not subject to as much regulation as in the States. There is also the possibility that mass delivery by drones may evaporate into the ether for a period of time waiting for better AI or other designs advances.

No matter which way the drone wars go or as AI improves we will probably see a lot more patents granted for human behavior and interaction with AI-driven machines.  Forward thinkers must reason out the human aspect of interacting with a remote piloted, unmanned piece of robotic hardware.

If the drone were small enough it might not matter but delivery drones will eventually ramp up in size to handle more deliveries. That leaves one to wonder what it would be like to see an unmanned FedEx delivery drone the size of a school bus drop down, unannounced, on your lawn.

At least, thanks to Amazon, we will have our Flappy Arms defense to hold off unwanted mechanical intrusions.


M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website


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