Retailer drone services are coming – operators need to consider safety issues, such as adverse weather, software bugs and vandals, to prepare for what could happen if a drone were to suddenly drop from the sky. Amazon may have the answer.

Amazon is reportedly exploring an innovative system that would mean drones experiencing difficulties could disintegrate in mid-air, minimising the potential force and impact on humans and animals on the ground, should the drone fall.

Digital Trends notes that  the idea is outlined in a patent granted this week by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Titled “direct fragmentation for unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs),” the document outlines how a malfunctioning drone could dismantle itself in the sky after assessing the conditions on the ground.

“The fragmentation sequence includes a release timing and a release location to fragment away (e.g. release, drop, jettison, eject, etc. away) one or more UAV components in case the flight operation of the UAV is disrupted,” the company says in the patent.