Amazon wants deliver your packages from flying warehouses in the sky

Unlike Amazon's land-based warehouses, which by definition can't move around, airborne fulfillment centers could respond to surges in demand even before they occur, according to the patent office filing.

Patent applications by Amazon for drones that band together to form a bigger drone or flying warehouses held aloft by blimps show how busily the company is thinking about its aerial delivery initiative.

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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. But for now, this is just another way for Amazon to use its drones as a marketing ploy.

Amazon started trialling drone deliveries in the United Kingdom in early December.

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It would float above a city at 45,000 feet of height, and hold not only thousands of items, but a fleet of drones. Earlier this month it made the first commercial delivery using a drone via a test scheme running in Cambridge.

An example given in the filing said the invention could be used at sporting events, providing snacks and souvenirs to large crowds. But before the idea can take-off, pun intended, Amazon needs the patent to be awarded, and aviation approval to be granted. When customers place orders from their phone, a drone would grab their product from the AFC and fly it down to customers below. Possibly taking the form of smaller airships, these shuttles would make periodic flights up to the AFCs, replenishing them not only with UAVs but also with inventory and fuel.

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The company plans to open stores that sell a mix of " grocery essentials" and ready-made meals with no checkout lines. If it is successful, shopping in a store might even be faster, and more preferable, to its online counterpart.

When customers purchase something from the website, a drone will take the package from the storage and deliver it to the client's address. It's unclear just how far along Amazon is on its AFC plans, and the company didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. But the company's latest patent is perhaps its most ambitious idea yet.


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