Amazon has filed a patent for an ‘airborne fulfilment centre’ (AFC) or flying airship warehouse. In theory, the airship will hover over a city or an event, sending out ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ (UAV) or drones to deliver goods customers have ordered.
In theory, the drones could deliver snacks in the event of big events such as football matches. Amazon’s patent outlines how they could deliver perishable and non-perishable goods, restock the airship, and even transport workers using airships and drones.
The patent was discovered by CB Insights, Zoe Leavitt.
The patent states: ‘The AFC may be an airship that remains at a high altitude (e.g., 45,000 feet).
‘UAVs with ordered items may be deployed from the AFC to deliver ordered items to user designated delivery locations.
‘Shuttles (smaller airships) may be used to replenish the AFC with inventory, UAVs, supplies, fuel, etc. Likewise, the shuttles may be utilised to transport workers to and from the AFC.’
Amazon has also filed a patent to protect their UAVs while out and about. The patent called Countermeasure for Theats to an Uncrewed Autonomous Vehicle was filled in November 2014 and published last week.
The idea is that should a UAV be struck by an object it would deploy a protective device such as an airbag, foam, or parachute. The drone could also then take emergency action to avoid being brought down.
The patent states, ‘The compromise module may detect the gunshot and loss altitude, and the fail-safe module may cause the parachute to deploy, which may reduce the severity of the impact between the UAV and another object, such as the ground’.
‘The countermeasures may reduce or eliminate ill-intentioned acts, inadvertent system failures, or mitigate the impact of such acts or failures.’
Earlier this month Amazon successfully made a delivery by drone to a customer in Cambridge.