Drone based delivery will revolutionize consumer goods delivery and as Amazon pioneers this delivery strategy, there’s something much more advanced already on the cards – a drone-distributing airborne warehouse that will speed up delivery to an unbelievable extent.
Patent filing by Amazon has been unearthed wherein it shows how the company intends to create Zeplin style warehouses called airborne fulfillment centers (AFC) designed to remain at a height of 45,000 feet, automatically replenishing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones with items that have been ordered by clients. These drones will then flown to designated delivery locations of Prime service users right from the air and not from a specific terrestrial location to save time.
Amazon notes in the patent that because the delivery UAVs will be descending from the AFC they wouldn’t require much power other than to stabilize the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent. The AFCs will remain airborne and shuttles (smaller airships) may be used to replenish the inventory, UAVs, supplies, fuel, etc. Further, the shuttles could also be used to transport workers to and from the AFC.
While Amazon’s existing goal with drone delivery is to get you your stuff within 30 minutes, airships could potentially reduce that time even further. 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 filing.
Amazon plans to position the AFC above a metropolitan area, allowing a user to browse the e-commerce website and place and order for an item that is their in the AFC’s inventory. This delivery will then be fulfilled by one of the UAVs on board the AFC. After completion of the delivery, the UAV can navigate to a nearby ground facility or a shuttle replacement location.
Temperature controlled drones can also be placed on the AFCs making them ideally suited for delivery of food. For example, if there is a football match going on, Amazon AFC will be positioned nearby and be stocked with snacks and souvenirs that sports fans can potentially purchase.
Apart from this, Amazon has also envisioned larger shuttles that could potentially carry people, drones and supplies to the AFCs and back to the ground. The filing explains how the company plans the drones and AFCs will work like a network, relaying data about wind speed, weather, etc to each other.