Apple drone patents show a way to drastically augment UAV flight range

Apple drone patents show a way to drastically augment UAV flight range
12 Nov, 2021

Two new Apple patents were filed in Singapore, showcasing technology that can integrate drone control in future Apple hardware.  

Spotted by Patently Apple, both the patents suggest ways to maximise the range across which a drone can be flown.  

The first patent showcases how a drone can switch from one controller to another while in flight. The second patent shows drones with in-built cellular connectivity, which can be used by a traffic management hub to switch controllers. 

In the first patent, Apple speaks about a built-in network configuration that can define how the drone recognises controllers. It states that such a format may allow a drone to automatically switch from one controller to the next, in various conditions.  

These may include the drone going out of coverage area of a controller, when operated across a vast space. Such a feature may do away the need for a drone controller to remain within a specified vicinity, thereby expanding the use case of drones in areas such as wildlife research, accessing remote terrains for studying climate change, cinematography, and so on. 

The second patent continues on the same vein, describing a cellular network built into drones. Through this network and an integrated traffic management hub, a drone can recognise compatible controller devices within its vicinity – and automatically communicate with it to switch control. This, too, would have similar use cases, enabling a wider usage possibility of drones in more extreme conditions. 

While such patents do not suggest that Apple may be working on making its own drone, it does hint at potential software features that could be integrated on Apple’s iPhones and iPads in future.  

Apple could potentially source APIs to drone manufacturers, in order to make them compatible with its devices. This could subsequently allow users to not require an additional controller for their drones, and could instead use their everyday devices to control drones.