Two weeks ago Amazon celebrated their first package delivery by drone and now comes word that they have been awarded a patent for an airborne blimp warehouse.
The ‘aerial fulfillment centers’ (AFC) are designed to remain airborne permanently with remote drone aircraft delivering products from the blimp to the customer on the ground. Flying at 45,000 feet the blimp warehouse would be serviced by a smaller airship that could dock with it bringing personnel and new inventory.
The remote drone delivery vehicle ‘package bombs’ may be the most intriguing part of this whole system.
From the Amazon patent abstract:
For example, the AFC may be an airship that remains at a high altitude (e.g., 45,000 feet) and UAVs with ordered items may be deployed from the AFC to deliver ordered items to user designated delivery locations. As the UAVs descend, they can navigate horizontally toward a user specified delivery location using little to no power, other than to stabilize the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent.
When the UAV approaches earth, the UAV may engage the motors of the UAV and utilize the lifting forces generated by the motors and corresponding propellers of the UAV to slow the descent of the UAV and to complete navigation to the user specified delivery location. When the UAV reaches the delivery location, it may disengage the ordered item and complete the delivery.
After completing an item delivery, the UAV may navigate to a nearby ground based materials handling facility or a shuttle replenishment location. Because of the high altitude of the AFC, navigation by a UAV back to the AFC may not be feasible.
No details on if the FAA has approved the Amazon aerial fulfillment centers or remote drone delivery system but you have to agree that Amazon is pushing the limits on shopping and customer fulfillment. Amazon was granted the patent last April.
Featured Image by Amazon via United States Patent and Trademark Office