Could Drones Be Used As An Alternative To Ski Lifts?


According to a report from the Daily Mail, Amazon has patented a system in which a drone can be fitted with a tow rope to pull a skier or snowboarder uphill. That article is linked just below.

Amazon patents drone that drags skiers up mountains using tow handle

A retractable rope would be lowered to take skiers up to the top of the mountain The drone would be summoned using a smart phone to find someone's location Amazon said extreme skiers could use this to 'customise experience' on slopes Amazon has patented a drone which could replace the ski lift by dragging skiers up a mountain using a tow handle.

An interesting concept, the device would be called by the user's phone, show up in the air, drop the towline, and take the user uphill. Though a unique experience, could these drones with handles be the end of the ski lift as the title of the Daily Mail article suggests?

Of course not. While a towing drone could be a neat idea as a personal conveyance for uphill skiing or snowboarding, perhaps as an alternative to using one's own power to skin or snowshoe up or an alternative to having to drag a snowmobile around, they wouldn't be a replacement for traditional lifts. The number of drones needed to keep up with the daily demand of a ski resort would just be too much. 

Again, the market here would use as a personal conveyance. It could be fun to bust one of these drones out and rip across a field in a fashion similar to waterskiing. The article cited above does mention a targeted use to waterskiers and skateboarders. Beyond personal use, though, it's unlikely tow drones would be used in large numbers for daily resort operations.

In any case, though the system has been patented, that does not mean that Amazon will put the tow drones into production. It could just be a proof of concept or a stepping stone to other drone uses or technologies. Will we see them on the mountain if they are put into production? Maybe one or two for those that want a different experience. But, it's doubtful that they will take over the mountain.

Photo Credit: Pxfuel


  1. This is a cute idea. It might work for the "backcountry" resorts with no lifts that are popping up here and there. It will never be a replacement for traditional ski lifts and any normal ski resort. I'm sure much thought hasn't been given for the size and power these drones will have to be or the cost. You won't be carrying one in your backpack to haul out at the bottom of a run. A snowmobile is probably a much cheaper more practical alternative for backcountry use.


Post a Comment

Please check out the Ski Rex Media sponsors and partners. I love these folks and I think you would, too.