Verizon Bets Big On Drones

Verizon engineers envision a world where cellular towers will double as charging stations for fleets of drones that are used to extend the reach of its wireless network and provide commercial services such as parcel delivery, according to five recent patent applications obtained by The Donohue Report.

The telecom giant’s latest drone-related invention, titled, “Method and apparatus for leveraging wireless communication using an aerial vehicle,” was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark office on Thursday.

USPTO published four additional patent applications involving drones from Verizon in late November, including “Unmanned aerial vehicle platform,” and an invention that details how inductive charging pads for drones could be attached to cellular base stations.

“In some implementations, the recharging station(s) may be provided at locations associated with other resources of wireless network (e.g., wireless access points (WAPs), radio network controllers (RNCs), etc.). In some implementations, the recharging station(s) may be provided at locations associated with resources of satellite network (e.g., ground satellite dishes, etc.). In some implementations, the recharging station(s) may be provided at locations associated with other networks 260 (e.g., wireless access points, etc.). In some implementations, the recharging station(s) may be provided at locations not associated with networks (e.g., on top of buildings, on radio and/or television towers, on ground satellite dishes, etc.),” Verizon states in the patent application.

Abstract: A device receives a request for a flight path for a UAV to travel from a first location to a second location, and determines capability information for the UAV based on component information of the UAV. The device calculates the flight path based on the capability information, identifies multiple recharging stations located on or near the flight path, and selects a recharging station from the multiple recharging stations based on one or more factors. The device generates flight path instructions, for the flight path, that instruct the UAV to stop and recharge at the recharging station. The device provides the flight path instructions to the UAV to permit the UAV to travel from the first location to a location of the recharging station, stop and recharge at the recharging station, and travel from the location of the recharging station to the second location via the flight path.

Claims: 

1. A method, comprising: receiving, by a device, a request for a flight path for an unmanned aerial vehicle to travel from a first geographical location to a second geographical location, the request including component information associated with components of the unmanned aerial vehicle; determining, by the device, capability information for the unmanned aerial vehicle based on the component information; calculating, by the device, the flight path from the first geographical location to the second geographical location based on the capability information; identifying, by the device, a plurality of recharging stations located on or near the flight path; selecting, by the device, one or more recharging stations, of the plurality of recharging stations, based on one or more factors associated with the one or more recharging stations; generating, by the device, flight path instructions for the flight path, the flight path instructions include information instructing the unmanned aerial vehicle to stop and recharge at the one or more recharging stations; and providing, by the device, the flight path instructions to the unmanned aerial vehicle to permit the unmanned aerial vehicle to: travel from the first geographical location to locations of the one or more recharging stations, stop and recharge at the one or more recharging stations, and travel from the locations of the one or more recharging stations to the second geographical location via the flight path.

2. The method of claim 1, where each of the one or more recharging stations includes an inductive charging pad that uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy from the inductive charging pad to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

3. The method of claim 2, where: the inductive charging pad includes a first induction coil to create the electromagnetic field from within the inductive charging pad, the unmanned aerial vehicle includes a second induction coil, and the second induction coil converts power from the electromagnetic field into an electrical current to recharge the unmanned aerial vehicle.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving feedback from the unmanned aerial vehicle during traversal of the flight path by the unmanned aerial vehicle; and determining whether to modify the flight path based on the feedback received from the unmanned aerial vehicle.

5. The method of claim 4, further comprising: calculating, when the flight path is to be modified, a modified flight path to the second geographical location based on the feedback; identifying another plurality of recharging stations located on or near the modified flight path; selecting one or more other recharging stations, of the other plurality of recharging stations, based on one or more factors associated with the one or more other recharging stations; generating modified flight path instructions for the modified flight path, the modified flight path instructions include information instructing the unmanned aerial vehicle to stop and recharge at the one or more other recharging stations; and providing the modified flight path instructions to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

6. The method of claim 1, where the one or more factors associated with the one or more recharging stations include at least one of: locations of the one or more recharging stations along the flight path, distances between the one or more recharging stations and the flight path, recharging capabilities of the one or more recharging stations, availabilities of the one or more recharging stations, safety associated with the one or more recharging stations, or security associated with the one or more recharging stations.

7. The method of claim 1, where identifying the plurality of recharging stations comprises: identifying a plurality of base stations located on or near the flight path, each of the plurality of base stations including at least one recharging station.

8. A system, comprising: one or more devices to: receive a request for a flight path for an unmanned aerial vehicle to travel from a first geographical location to a second geographical location, the request including component information associated with components of the unmanned aerial vehicle; determine capability information for the unmanned aerial vehicle based on the component information; calculate the flight path from the first geographical location to the second geographical location based on the capability information; identify a plurality of recharging stations located on or near the flight path; select one or more recharging stations, of the plurality of recharging stations, based on one or more factors associated with the one or more recharging stations; generate flight path instructions for the flight path, the flight path instructions include information instructing the unmanned aerial vehicle to stop and recharge at the one or more recharging stations; and provide the flight path instructions to the unmanned aerial vehicle to permit the unmanned aerial vehicle to: travel from the first geographical location to locations of the one or more recharging stations, stop and recharge at the one or more recharging stations, and travel from the locations of the one or more recharging stations to the second geographical location via the flight path.

9. The system of claim 8, where each of the one or more recharging stations includes an inductive charging pad that uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy from the inductive charging pad to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

10. The system of claim 9, where: the inductive charging pad includes a first induction coil to create the electromagnetic field from within the inductive charging pad, the unmanned aerial vehicle includes a second induction coil, and the second induction coil converts power from the electromagnetic field into an electrical current to recharge the unmanned aerial vehicle.

11. The system of claim 8, where the one or more devices are further to: receive feedback from the unmanned aerial vehicle during traversal of the flight path by the unmanned aerial vehicle; and determine whether to modify the flight path based on the feedback received from the unmanned aerial vehicle.

12. The system of claim 11, where the one or more devices are further to: calculate, when the flight path is to be modified, a modified flight path to the second geographical location based on the feedback; identify another plurality of recharging stations located on or near the modified flight path; select one or more other recharging stations, of the other plurality of recharging stations, based on one or more factors associated with the one or more other recharging stations; generate modified flight path instructions for the modified flight path, the modified flight path instructions include information instructing the unmanned aerial vehicle to stop and recharge at the one or more other recharging stations; and provide the modified flight path instructions to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

13. The system of claim 8, where the one or more factors associated with the one or more recharging stations include at least one of: locations of the one or more recharging stations along the flight path, distances between the one or more recharging stations and the flight path, recharging capabilities of the one or more recharging stations, availabilities of the one or more recharging stations, safety associated with the one or more recharging stations, or security associated with the one or more recharging stations.

14. The system of claim 8, where, when identifying the plurality of recharging stations, the one or more devices are further to: identify a plurality of base stations located on or near the flight path, each of the plurality of base stations including at least one recharging station.

15. A computer-readable medium for storing instructions, the instructions comprising: one or more instructions that, when executed by one or more processors of a device, cause the one or more processors to: receive a request for a flight path for an unmanned aerial vehicle to travel from a first geographical location to a second geographical location, determine capability information for the unmanned aerial vehicle based on component information associated with components of the unmanned aerial vehicle; calculate the flight path from the first geographical location to the second geographical location based on the capability information; identify a plurality of base stations located on or near the flight path, each of the plurality of base stations including one or more recharging stations; select one or more base stations, of the plurality of base stations, based on one or more factors associated with the one or more base stations; generate flight path instructions for the flight path, the flight path instructions include information instructing the unmanned aerial vehicle to stop and recharge at the one or more base stations; and provide the flight path instructions to the unmanned aerial vehicle to permit the unmanned aerial vehicle to: travel from the first geographical location to locations of the one or more base stations, stop and recharge at recharging stations of the one or more base stations, and travel from the locations of the one or more base stations to the second geographical location via the flight path.

16. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, where each recharging station includes an inductive charging pad that uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy from the inductive charging pad to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

17. The computer-readable medium of claim 16, where: the inductive charging pad includes a first induction coil to create the electromagnetic field from within the inductive charging pad, the unmanned aerial vehicle includes a second induction coil, and the second induction coil converts power from the electromagnetic field into an electrical current to recharge the unmanned aerial vehicle.

18. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, where the instructions further comprise: one or more instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, cause the one or more processors to: receive feedback from the unmanned aerial vehicle during traversal of the flight path by the unmanned aerial vehicle; and determine whether to modify the flight path based on the feedback received from the unmanned aerial vehicle.

19. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, where the instructions further comprise: one or more instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, cause the one or more processors to: calculate, when the flight path is to be modified, a modified flight path to the second geographical location based on the feedback; identify another plurality of base stations located on or near the modified flight path each of the other plurality of base stations including one or more recharging stations; select one or more other base stations, of the other plurality of base stations, based on one or more factors associated with the one or more other base stations; generate modified flight path instructions for the modified flight path, the modified flight path instructions include information instructing the unmanned aerial vehicle to stop and recharge at the one or more other base stations; and provide the modified flight path instructions to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

20. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, where the one or more factors associated with the one or more base stations include at least one of: locations of the one or more base stations along the flight path, distances between the one or more base stations and the flight path, recharging capabilities associated with the one or more base stations, availabilities of the one or more base stations, safety associated with the one or more base stations, or security associated with the one or more base stations.