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Amazon Granted Patent for Police Shoulder Drones

According to a recently granted patent, police officers could be equipped with voice-activated drones small enough to perch on their shoulders.

Police officers may soon have a constant companion: a drone.

On Oct. 18, Amazon was granted a patent for a voice-enabled drone, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. As adorable as it sounds, it also holds functionality potential for law enforcement, according the company.

According to the patent, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could snap pictures, record interactions with police and detect possible dangers. “In other words, the UAV can act as eyes and/or ears, among other things, for the user to extend the user’s perception,” the patent states.

The trend toward police transparency could be a factor driving the company into the law enforcement space. Police body cameras are gaining popularity, but have shown complications. Often when equipped on the chest of an officer, the video can be shaky or in some cases reported to fall off. If the drone is given a voice command to "hover," it can provide reliable video without interruption.


The drone would be lightweight and compact so as to not impede on an officer's duties, but would act as an aid. The UAV may be small enough to rest directly on the user so it is for ready deployment. According to one image, the drone could dock itself on a police microphone.

In order to create a drone small enough to perch itself like a parrot, the processor would need to be separate. Written into the patent, the processor could transmit information and the drone would receive commands. The patent also mentions control capabilities using an app.

Although still a long way out due to FAA drone restrictions, Amazon has done a lot of research into drone technology particularly in the realm of delivery. With the recent work in federally regulating drone rules, these little drones could be buzzing around police officers sooner rather than later.

Ryan McCauley was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine from October 2016 through July 2017, and previously served as the publication's editorial assistant.