Amazon files patent for flying warehouse as part of drone delivery plan
In a patent filed with the USPTO, Amazon reveals its plans to develop an "airborne fulfillment center" for its future delivery drones.
Filed in April, the patent was only discovered by a technology analyst at CB Insights on December 28. It shows Amazon's next drone-delivery steps, just two weeks after it announced its first successful Prime Air mission. The "airborne fulfillment center" (AFC) or "airship", which could float at around 45,000 feet (13.7 kilometers) above sea level, would act as a warehouse for Amazon's drones, with "shuttles" used to restock the mother ship with supplies, fuel, and even employees.
Why a flying warehouse? Because the high altitude means the drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) would use a significantly lower amount of energy during each delivery, simply needing to control their gravitational descent towards the target address. "Only as the UAV approaches earth does it need to fully engage the UAV motors to maintain flight and complete delivery of the item," Amazon explains in its patent.
Read the full patent here.