Amazon wants to create giant airship warehouses to speed up your drone deliveries

 
Emma Haslett
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World's Longest Aircraft Unveiled
Will these be stationed above our cities in the future? (Source: Getty)

The year is 2050. You've just thought your order into your MindModule. A dark mass lurches in front of the sun as a giant airship floats into view overhead.

Seconds later, you hear the familiar whine of a drone outside your front door as your package is delivered. Welcome to Amazon's vision of the future...

This morning it was revealed the online retail giant has been awarded a patent for an "airborne fulfillment center" (aka "AFC") for the use with drones to deliver items to users.


The patent shows drones delivering items from airships (Source: US Patent and Trademark Office)

A filing with the US Patent Office suggested the AFC "may be an airship that remains at a high altitude (eg. 45,000 feet) and [drones] with ordered items may be deployed from the AFC to deliver... to user-designated delivery locations".

"Physical delivery of items to user specified locations has improved dramatically over the years, with some retailers offering next day delivery of ordered items," it added.

"An AFC may be positioned at an altitude above a metropolitan area and be designed to maintain an inventory of items that may be purchased by a user and delivered to the user by a [drone] that is deployed from the AFC."

But returning to the airship won't be so easy.

"Because of the high altitude of the AFC, navigation by a [drone] back to the AFC may not be feasible, or an efficient use of power."

Earlier this month Amazon completed its first-ever drone delivery - in Cambridgeshire, no less - where it took 13 minutes to get from depot to door.

Amazon Prime Air, its fledgling drone deliver service, was unveiled in 2013, with the aim of delivering goods within a 30-minute time frame. At the time, boss Jeff Bezos predicted the service will launch in four or five years.

It's not the first mad-sounding patent lodged by Amazon, either: back in March, it hinted at technology allowing users to pay by selfie, using facial recognition to verify a purchase.

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