Amazon his filed a patent for a flying drone the size of a warehouse.
We’ve known about Amazon’s drone delivery ambitions since 2013, but a new patent circulated today via CB Insights Zoe Leavitt, indicates the online retailer is working on plans to scale up this concept through “airborne fulfillment centers” or (AFCs).
While the patent isn’t completely clear, it looks like Amazon basically has plans to create a floating warehouse zeppelin that looks like it was pulled right out of Bioshock Infinite.
The concept is airborne fulfillment centers would be stocked with a certain allocation of inventory and positioned near a location where Amazon predicts demand for that product will spike. Drones, which are stocked onboard the fulfillment center, are then sent down to make deliveries via Amazon’s on-demand drone service.
An example in the patent focuses on the technology finding use during a large sporting event, where AFCs could potentially deliver snacks and souvenirs after being positioned near a stadium. Amazon’s patent also discussed larger shuttles that could carry people as well as additional supplies and drones between AFCs and the ground, all connected through a universal inventory management system that functions as a mesh network.
Within this mesh, drones would relay data to each other about weather, routing and wind speed, in order to perform more efficiently and accurately.
Of course, like all patent filings, there’s no indication as to whether or not this futuristic tech will ever find use in the real world. If it does, however, it’s likely that it will take years before Amazon’s AFC devices are seen in the wild.
Drone Delivery Canada, a Canadian company, has been teasing drone delivery technology for a number of months now, though plans to actually rollout its tech have not been revealed. Amazon revealed back in 2016 that it’s testing drone delivery in a secret location near the B.C.-U.S. border because the government approval process is much quicker than the United States.