The never-ending global urge for caffeine has led to a new innovation. International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) has filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent Office for “coffee-delivery drones” that are also capable of predicting when an individual will need a drink and how it should be made. (See also: Coffee: The Cost of a Cup.)

IBM Secures Coffee-Delivery Drone Patent

The patent titled “Drone delivery of coffee based on a cognitive state of an individual” lists the possibility of harnessing the combination of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) with biometric readings of an individual to deliver the best possible preparation of the necessary beverage. (See also: Top ETFs Capitalizing on Artificial Intelligence.)

Imagine a group of employees who work in an office complex and have had a hectic day. The group comes out for the usual break on the adjoining terrace and finds AI-directed drones hovering over. These drones are fitted with necessary sensors to automatically detect the biometrics, blood pressure, pupil dilation, facial expression and other body traits of the individuals. Sourcing and processing these key data points, the drone system can then infer whether an individual needs a dose of caffeine, and if so in what variation. If the individual feels the urge, they can use a gesture like waving hands to indicate their desire for a beverage. The drone then delivers the most suitable drink to that particular individual.

There are many variations of this scenario. For example, a drone could directly dispense coffee to the individual’s mug. Or a drone could deliver a sealed container or bag to prevent spillage. Additionally, the drone may “take advantage of social psychological effects by first providing coffee to a person who is popular, famous or otherwise has a high social status,” as per the patent application. Drones, and their underlying controlling system, will also be equipped with necessary memory modules for remembering an individual’s identity as well as their preferences, like a sugar-free cappuccino at 4 p.m. each weekday. It will facilitate the precise servings to the individuals during the routine coffee breaks at the designated time. The individual will always have an option to deny the offering, in which case the drone will move on to the next person.

The product, if developed and deployed on a commercial scale, has the potential to save millions in costs. However, it also risks putting millions of jobs of baristas and other associated functions at stake.

IBM has not disclosed whether and when it plans to actually produce or deploy the coffee drones. At times, companies patent a technology or product without having any intention to utilize or sell them. It is done to prevent a competitor from launching a similar product or service, to earn easy royalties from other companies willing to build products on the patented technology or simply to be retained for integrating into a larger product in future. (See also: How Patent Trolls Hurt Competition?)

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