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Amazon reveals futuristic floating warehouse concept

by ASC Staff on Jan 2, 2017


Amazon has filed a patent for “an airborne fulfillment center (AFC) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to deliver items from the AFC to users.” (Image illustrative)
Amazon has filed a patent for “an airborne fulfillment center (AFC) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to deliver items from the AFC to users.” (Image illustrative)

Amazon has been leading the innovation in e-commerce logistics since it was first established in the 1990s, but its latest concept, a floating warehouse operating as a mothership for a fleet of drones, is the most ambitious yet.

The online retail giant has long put speed to delivery above profit margins, and its new airship fulfilment centre will make it even easier to provide same-day delivery, though at a potentially exorbitant cost.

Amazon has filed a patent for “an airborne fulfillment center (AFC) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to deliver items from the AFC to users.”

The giant hovering mothership/warehouse has already been nicknamed “the Death Star” (out of Star Wars of course) and “Laputa” (the flying island described in the 1726 book ‘Gulliver’s Travels’) by social media commentators.

In the abstract for the patent application, which was filed in December 2014, but only discovered on Dec. 28, 2016, by Zoe Leavitt, an analyst for CB Insights, 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,” according to the Amazon-patent.

The UAVs operating from the mothership would be able to “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.”

Larger unmanned shuttles would replenish the AFC with inventory, replacement UAVs, supplies, fuel and whatever manpower is required.

The airborne warehouse would double-up as an advertising platform for the online retail giant, using major events to encourage impulse buys.

The filing describes a scenario in which “items likely to be ordered are determined and stocked in the inventory,” in advance of a sporting event, while the flying warehouse hovers nearby advertising said items to accommodate the impulse purchases of fans.
 


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