Weekly Patent Roundup: AT&T

I am attempting to revive my weekly patent roundup alongside my weekly legal roundup.  Should make for some interesting reading!

This week’s patent is U.S. Patent Publication No. 20170181117 assigned to AT&T titled, “Location Assessment System for Drones.”  Soon we will see a drone system in place that requires oversight and AT&T clearly has its sights set on patenting some of the relevant technology for the emerging industry.  The abstract describes the patent application as:

A system for locating unmanned mobile connected objects, such as, but not limited to, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as, but not limited to drones, and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) is disclosed. A command center may be configured to identify current locations of unmanned mobile connected objects, predict future locations of unmanned mobile connected objects, predict and prevent collisions of unmanned mobile connected objects, identify unpredictable variables, such as, but not limited to, plane crashes, disaster areas, cranes interfering with flight paths and no-fly zones and search for unmanned mobile connected objects even if there is no radio signal coverage or in situations when radio signals are inactive, such as during disasters and emergency situations. The system may be configured such that an unmanned mobile connected object may populate a neighboring table with information such as geolocation, cell signal strength, and status, and may be shared with a command center.

The patent discusses a methodology to communicate with UAVs to gather and analyze flight information concerning the UAV.  Interestingly, the first claim is not directed to this direct communication path with a central communication unit.  Rather, the first independent claim is directed to the “ad-hoc” communications network.  This ad-hoc network allows a drone outside the range of the central communication unit to relay information by using an intermediary drone which is within the corresponding range.  Claim 1 reads:

1. A first unmanned mobile connected object, comprising: a memory that stores instructions; a processor that executes the instructions to perform operations, the operations comprising: receiving classification information associated with the first unmanned mobile connected object; populating fields in a neighboring table of the first unmanned mobile connected object with the information associated with a first unmanned mobile connected object; transmitting the neighboring table to a second unmanned mobile connected object; and receiving classification information associated with the second unmanned mobile connected object to populate the neighboring table.

This claim is obviously subject to changes as it undergoes prosecution but is an interesting look at the focus of patent protection for AT&T.

Figure 1 of U.S. Pat. Pub. 20170181117

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