Amazon Files Patent for ‘Futuristic’ Drone Fulfillment Center

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Amazon filed a patent last week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a multi-level fulfillment center for “unmanned aerial vehicles,” better known as drones.

In the patent filing, Amazon describes the centers as especially beneficial in highly-populated urban areas such as Tokyo, London, and New York City, where demand is high and space is limited:

Fulfillment centers are typically large-volume single-floor warehouse buildings used to temporarily store items prior to shipment to customers. Often, due to their large footprint, these buildings are located on the outskirts of cities where space is available to accommodate these large buildings. These locations are not [convenient] for deliveries into cities where an ever-increasing number of people live. Thus, there is a growing need and desire to locate fulfillment centers within cities, such as in downtown districts and densely populated parts of the cities. By locating the fulfillment centers within the cities, items may be more quickly delivered to the growing population of people that live in the cities, as well as the large population of people who work in the cities. 

Unlike traditional fulfillment centers, the multi-level fulfillment centers may include many levels (i.e., stories, floors, etc.) as permitted under zoning regulations for respective areas. The fulfillment center may have one or more landing locations and one or more deployment locations to accommodate UAVs, which may deliver at least some of the items from the fulfillment center to locations associated with customers.

With Prime Air drones, “flying warehouses” that highlighted last January, and now these new designs for drone fulfillment centers that look like beehives or something from “The Jetsons,” it's clear that Amazon has been trying to shorten the distance between warehouses and consumers for a while in an effort to appeal to more customers and keep them happy.

According to the FAQ on Amazon's Prime Air website, they “are testing many different vehicle designs and delivery mechanisms to discover how best to deliver packages in a variety of operating environments. The look and characteristics of the vehicles will continue to evolve over time. … It looks like science fiction, but it's real. One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.”


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