Steaming cup of coffee

Automatic coffee delivery drones on their way as IBM files patent

Image credit: Dreamstime

Computing heavyweight IBM has filed a patent for a small drone capable of identifying people appearing tired and bringing them hot cups of coffee.

According to the patent, coffee is “delivered to individuals that would like the drink or who have a predetermined cognitive state, using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)/drone.”

“The drink is connected to the UAV and the UAV flies to an area including people and uses sensors to scan the people for an individual who has gestured that they would like the drink or for whom an electronic analysis of sensor data indicates to be in a predetermined cognitive state. The UAV then flies to the individual to deliver the drink.”

Coffee delivery drone patent images


Image credit: IBM

Individuals may be judged in need of coffee if they show visible signs of tiredness, such as pupil dilation or certain facial expressions; IBM recently filed a different patent for a computer vision system capable of monitoring these features. The drone may, in other circumstances, monitor biological signals of tiredness, such as change in blood pressure.

The drink is then presented to the person on an “unspooling string” or other string-utilising mechanism, with sugar, milk, sweetener and syrups dispensed through a tube. In a variation on the device, the coffee is dispensed straight into mugs or delivered in a sealed bag. A heating element could be submerged in or placed outside the coffee to keep it hot during delivery.

The patent suggests that for large groups of people, several drones may work together, or a single drone seeing many people in need of caffeine may summon more drones to fulfil an unexpectedly large demand for coffee.

The patent is no guarantee that IBM will go on to develop and sell the coffee-dispensing drone, although filing patents can be an expensive process.

Although no widely available drone delivery service has been rolled out for food and drink, drones have frequently been used in trials and promotional campaigns. In September, Costa Coffee used a drone to deliver iced coffee in a ‘Drone Drop’ service on a Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. This service was not continued or expanded.

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