30 December, 2016
Earlier this month, Amazon successfully made a drone delivery with its Prime Air service and might be the first step towards the realisation of aerostat warehouses.
Amazon patent filings from April began circulating today that show how the e-commerce site wants to deploy massive amounts of drones from one location: zeppelins, or what Amazon calls "airborne fulfillment centers", or AFCs. The warehouse could stock specific items such as sporting apparel or food, then relocate near the event so customers could order items and have them quickly delivered by drone.
USA patent 9,305,280 was filed by Amazon Technologies Inc. on behalf of inventors Paul William Berg, Scott Isaacs, and Kelsey Lynn Blodgett all the way back in December of 2014. But before the idea can take-off, pun intended, Amazon needs the patent to be awarded, and aviation approval to be granted. When the drone gets near to the customer's house, it scans the ground with a camera to find an Amazon logo that customers place on the ground.
According to Amazon's patent, the flying warehouses would mostly remain in the air, getting refueled and replenished through smaller, blimp-like shuttles.
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To that end, the company has filed a patent for modular drones that can be assembled and optimized for the type of delivery they will be conducting.
Amazon's aerial dreams aren't limited to drone deliveries. The shuttles would also be able to "travel long horizontal distances (miles) from the AFC using little to no power" by relying on its flaps and ailerons alone. "AMZN patent for airborne warehouses at 45K ft spitting out delivery drones".
The patent was filed in 2014 but recently discovered by Zoe Leavitt of CB Insights, which analyzes trends.
The patent suggests that the AFCs - which could be autonomous or have a human crew - would maintain an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13,716 m), above commercial airline routes. The AFC could potentially solve many of Amazon's drone issues.