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Amazon Drone  (Source: BidnessETC)
What do you think about getting your shipments directly from the clouds to your home? We are not talking data folks. This is tangible merchandise from the sky.

That is what Amazon is thinking about with their “airbourne fulfillment centers” (AFC), according to a new patent that was filed by Amazon on December 22, and discovered by CB Insight’s analyst Zoe Leavitt on Yesterday.

The patent suggests that that blimps can be used to store merchandise in the air and drones can be used to deliver items from the AFC to consumers. Amazon writes in the patent’s ABSTRACT: "Described is an airborne fulfillment center ("AFC") and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles ('UAV') to deliver items from the AFC to users. 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."



Photo Source: Amazon Patent

These blimps can be position over a metropolitan area at a high altitude that Amazon refers to as the “fulfillment center altitude”. Don’t worry about airplanes crashing into these blimps though because per the patent, “Positioning the AFCs 302 at an altitude above 45,000 takes them out of the flight path of commercial airplanes, which generally have a maximum usable altitude of approximately 42,000 feet. Because the AFCs 302 are not in the flight path of other aerial vehicles, they can remain at a position for extended periods of time without disrupting other aerial systems.”

So, we see here that a huge AFC or mother-blimp would be stationed at a certain altitude and then smaller UAV’s would transport ordered items to point of delivery. This could certainly solve the problem of battery usage since the patent offered this solution: "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."


Photo Source: Amazon Patent
 
The patent went further stating: "Shuttles (smaller airships) may be used to replenish the AFC with inventory, UAVs, supplies, fuel, etc," Amazon writes. "Likewise, the shuttles may be utilized to transport workers to and from the AFC."

Sources: Business Insider, United States Patent and Trademark Office





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