Amazon isn’t shy of brainstorming outlandish ideas for its delivery drones. The online retail giant has a plethora of patents to its name, including modular unmanned aircraft and flying drone warehouses. A recent patent filing, published on Thursday, outlines a multi-story beehive-esque building that would receive and deploy delivery drones.
The multi-level fulfillment center accommodates landing and takeoff of numerous unmanned aircraft. Traditional fulfillment warehouses are often placed outside of densely populated areas due to their large footprint, but Amazon suggests its vertical fulfillment center could be the opposite. There a number of unique designs for the building but each shares the same function: receive, load, and deploy drones.
Windows at each story would allow drones to land and take off from different heights, depending on the regulations in the area. Trucks would enter from the bottom and human workers would load drones for takeoff and delivery. There’s also room in the multi-level fulfillment center for self-service package lockers.
Amazon has been on a patent filing spree in the last several years. According to CB Insights, Amazon filed 78 logistics patents in 2016. That number is double the patent activity in 2014.
Amazon has been testing its delivery drones for some time now. It launched a beta program in the United Kingdom late last year, allowing a select number of customers to order small items by air. No word on where the company will expand its drone services to next, but dozens possibly hundreds of customers could join the program in the near-future.
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