Amazon patent hints at floating warehouses in the sky

Maxine SotoDec 30, 2016

Amazon has been testing drone delivery for quite sometime now, but a recent discovery of a patent filing by the company shows its ambitions to have a (lighter-than-air) Zeplin style airships serving as flying warehouses.

Amazon is exploring the use of giant airships to serve as mobile, flying warehouses that could help the online retail giant deliver more of its goods by drone.

"As the UAVs descend, they can navigate horizontally toward a user-specified delivery location using little to no power, other than to stabilise the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent".

According to the patent, the shuttle drones would climb as high as 45,000 feet where the airborne warehouses would be hovering, and the smaller airships would expend nearly no energy on their way down to Earth.

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The AFC would have another type of drones, which will function as shuttles.

Amazon has hundreds of warehouses-Fulfillment Centers, as it calls them- across the globe.

According to the patent, which was granted in April this year, the blimps would circle above key locations at altitudes of 45,000 feet.

Because it would take too much energy for the drones to return to the airship, they would just head to one of the smaller airships to be lifted back up, Amazon suggested.

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IBTimes UK reached out to Amazon for comment on the patent but did not receive an immediate response.

The airships themselves are described as "airborne fulfillment centres" (AFC).

The patent was filed in 2014 but recently discovered by Zoe Leavitt of CB Insights, which analyzes trends.

Earlier this month, Amazon staged a successful drone delivery in the United Kingdom, dropping off an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn to a customer in Cambridge, England.

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Amazon is giving us yet another glimpse into it's vision of the future, and this idea is pretty out there. When customers place orders from their phone, a drone would grab their product from the AFC and fly it down to customers below. But what if you could link up lots of drones?

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