- 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.
As Amazon edges closer to making its drone delivery dreams a reality, the company just got a patent approved to let it build drones for on-demand surveillance.
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.
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."
In the short-term, Amazon has its sights set on drone delivery. The company unveiled its "Prime Air" delivery drone earlier this month, and consumer boss Jeff Wilke said the drones should be making their first real-world deliveries "within months." The FAA issued the drone with a year-long licence for testing, but Amazon has yet to get full commercial approval.