In the latest series of patents granted to Microsoft, a rather interesting one regarding potentially a new delivery system has now emerged. This will allow for what has been dubbed "En route product delivery" by the tech giant. Essentially, this is a mechanism which will enable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to deliver products to receiving vehicles that are en route to a destination.
Various techniques to facilitate this dynamic delivery system have been described. The flight path of the UAV may be updated in real time based on customer location. It could also be synchronized in such a manner that it directly converges with the receiving vehicle at a specified location. Other data might be fed to the system to plan relevant flight paths as well.
According to one implementation, customers could potentially place an order on the go through their in-dash navigation systems or mobile phones, and receive the product during the same journey. The receiving vehicle may be recognized based on certain identifiers, such as its license plate numbers, while the UAV may directly communicate with the client's computing device as well.
The final part of the delivery could be performed using two different techniques. The UAV could synchronize its velocity with that of the receiving vehicle and then drop or lower the product through a roof opening, or it could use a tether to hand off the product directly to a customer using the side window of a vehicle. These techniques could further be expanded upon as well. For example, the delivery might only be allowed to take place when when certain local vehicular regulations, such as speed limits, are being complied with. The controlling system may also enable the UAV to recognize instances where the customer brings the vehicle to a complete stop, switches it to autopilot mode, or turns it off, before completing the delivery. You can read about further implementations here.
Innovative delivery systems are something various companies have been working upon in recent times, so it makes sense to patent similar techniques to reap the benefits. Do note, however, that Microsoft filed for the patent in 2017. It is quite possible, therefore, that the company may have simply lost interest in pursuing the creation of such a system.