Amazon And Its Flying Warehouses

In its quest to bring quick, convenient drone delivery to the mainstream masses, Amazon looks to be investigating ways to bring its warehouse fulfillment centers to the sky.

Filings recently disclosed from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office show what Amazon described as an airborne fulfillment center, what looks like a large zeppelin with a storage facility attached beneath, designed to remain at high altitudes to keep stock, supply and replenish drone deliveries.

Amazon’s current goal for drone-based deliveries would bring packages to customers’ doors within 30 minutes. According to the patent filing, the goal of airborne fulfillment centers is to reduce that delivery time goal even more, to potentially under 10 minutes in some instances.

Additionally, the airborne fulfillment centers could be used to adequately respond surges in demand or better service deliveries large gatherings. Amazon gave examples such as distributing paraphernalia and food products at concerts or large sporting events.

In addition to the main airborne fulfillment centers, smaller ships would be used for restocking and refueling purposes. There is no word yet on when such airship fleet systems could be launched.

Amazon also recently received a U.S. patent it had filed for back in August 2015, covering technology to be used as “countermeasures of threats to an uncrewed autonomous vehicle.” The technology will be used to help prevent Amazon’s drones from becoming targets of hackers and used to monitor for internal errors and malfunctions.

Amazon recently began testing its drone delivery services in the U.K. The first Prime Air delivery happened on Dec. 7 and took 13 minutes. The company is currently working with only two lucky shoppers near its first Prime Air fulfillment center in Cambridge, U.K., who can now order their goods by drone. Over time, Amazon plans to eventually expand this trial to hundreds of shoppers who live within a few miles of its first Prime Air fulfillment center.