As an alternative means to get its still-in-the-works delivery drones out when the program kicks off, Amazon has drawn up plans for what is essentially a blimp or airship that would serve as a hub to send some drones off, according to TechCrunch.
The patent for what Amazon calls an “airborne fulfillment center” was found by CB Insights analyst Zoe Leavitt. The airship would be unmanned, massive, and fly at an altitude of around 45,000 feet. Not only that, but it would be supported by smaller airships that would take on tasks such as delivering fuel, bring drones home, and even transport workers to the airborne fulfillment center.
The idea is that by using the AFC in tandem with the delivery drones, less power would be used up during the delivery process and having a warehouse with commonly purchased products around a specific area—the situation provided was a sports stadium—Amazon could quickly deliver snacks and team merchandise, something that is sure to be the bane of the concessions stand and merch store.
The airborne fulfillment center is just a concept at the moment, but Amazon seems to have put a lot of thought into what can be done with the AFC in regards to its delivery drone project and how many would be required to make it efficient.
If regulation could reach a point where delivery drones can regularly take to the skies, AFCs probably won’t be too far behind and would of course start in the test cities Amazon usually runs. The most likely at the moment would be London where the company is already testing the drones.
One thing’s for certain: the AFC—as out there a plan it might appear on paper—would definitely add another dimension to the company’s approach to delivery.