There have been a flood of companies looking to monetize new drone technologies to either gather information or disseminate products for customers, but the most famous of them is surely Amazon. CEO Jeff Bezos has been talking about delivering your products via drone for years now, and even delivered its first packages in December 2016 (see video below).

The company calls its drone effort Amazon Prime Air. The idea is that you’ll get your products in 30 minutes or less via an unmanned drone that will bypass traffic to swoop in to your location. That’s fine for urban areas where population density means these drones aren’t travelling very far, but what about rural areas?

It turns out IBM may have solved Amazon’s rural drone problem. Big Blue filed a patent for drone delivery that will allow the drones to pass packages to one another in a relay to the final destination. Brett Williams writes at Mashable that the drones will use extension arms and sophisticated communications systems connected to IBM’s Watson system to complete the relay. He writes:

The customer could even become more active in the supply chain with this type of tech in place. IBM Research envisions a scenario in which a customer might even send out their own personal drone to receive packages in mid-flight in order to get the payload in their hands (or at least on their drone) ASAP.

If one part of the system fails — for instance, if a drone is knocked out of the sky and doesn’t make it to the relay point — an IBM spokesperson told us via email the missing drone could easily be tracked using its on-board GPS system, and others could be easily and even automatically dispatched in its place.

Read more here.

Amazon Prime Air’s First Customer Delivery