Amazon has patented an ‘airborne fulfillment center’ that works with drones to deliver items from said floating warehouse to customers. The patent relates to Amazon’s publicly stated drone delivery ambitions, though we’re still a long way from seeing an actual delivery center floating around in the sky. The patent goes on to describe small airships that would deliver items to the airborne fulfillment center.
The patent was first filed on December 22, 2014 by Amazon Technologies Inc. In it we see illustrations of this floating fulfillment center and the “UAVs” that would navigate between it and customers. Though the illustrations show essentially large and small blimps as representations, the general functionality is apparent.
In this future, assuming something like this ever becomes a real product, a fulfillment center would be deployed at an altitude of something like 45,000ft (per the patent) and an airship called a shuttle would take a load of items to this fulfillment center. From there, the system would load the items onto drones, which would descend toward a related delivery location.
The patent says this delivery location would be “user specified,” indicating the deliveries could be made just about anywhere rather than a centralized reception center akin to lockers. The drones would use a low amount of power while descending, mostly being used to stabilize the UAV. As well, the patent indicates that human workers would be loaded onto these airships/shuttles and transported to the airborne fulfillment center to manage and load the orders.