Amazon has patented a drone that could replace the ski lift by dragging skiers up the mountain using a retractable rope and tow handle.
Amazon has been trialing delivery drones that promise 30-min deliveries for months now, and this patent shows the extent to which the company thinks drones could be used.
According to the patent, a drone could be summoned using a smartphone app. A person’s location would be sent to the drone, the drone would arrive at said location, and a rope with tow handle would be lowered for the skier wanting to get to the top of the slope.
Once at the desired destination, the skier would let go, the rope would retract, and the drone would be ready to be summoned again.
In the patent filing, Amazon explains that an extreme skier may use this system to ‘reach a remote area or to customize their experience’ when going ‘off a designated run and for reaching fresh powder’.
Amazon isn’t the first company to envisage drones taking skiers up the mountain. Australian technology start-up, “Drongo”, predicted last year that drones powerful enough to carry humans will soon replace traditional ski-lifts. Drongo is a new company specializing in the research and development of automated aerial drones big enough to transport people. Drongo’s CEO, Dr. Ana Gram-Desnor said in an interview with Sugar Research Australia:
“Human payload capable drones have been around for a few years, but until now, no-one has produced one that is light enough or inexpensive enough for the average person!”
The document also suggests that the drone tow handle could also be used for water-skiing, surfing, or skateboarding.
For this to ever see the light of day though, a number of obstacles would need to be overcome. Apart from variable mountain conditions that could cause a drone to crash invoking human death, noise is also an issue. The buzz from the current drone models sound like a biblical swarm of mosquitos, and this is not the atmosphere that most ski areas lean towards. However, just how high is the likelihood that we may begin to start using automated aerial vehicles to take us to where our heart’s desire, which, for many of us, just so happens to be to the top of that mountain over there?