Amazon is investing a fortune in automation. The company recently announced that they would open a grocery store without cashiers. They’re also trying to get a fleet of delivery drones off the ground, barring regulations, effectiveness, and cost. Some functions of the company’s warehouses are already automated, and more human-powered jobs will eventually be replaced by machines.
While current technology could, in fact, fully realize these lofty goals within the next year, Amazon is also devising some pretty wild and futuristic concepts, too. For instance, the company recently filed patents to build a floating drone warehouse to fulfill orders placed by Amazon Prime Air, their in-the-works drone delivery system.
Yet how would a giant floating loading dock in the sky work? Better yet, why would Amazon want to build one in the first place? Let’s take a look.
Amazon wants to create automated “airborne fulfillment drones” that float 45,000 feet above the ground.
These drones will supply smaller Amazon Prime Air drones with goods in high-demand locations. Instead of having the delivery drones fly all the way back to an Amazon warehouse to reload, they could significantly reduce their delivery time by resupplying in one of these behemoths.
These warehouse blimps could be used to deliver items to a crowded event.
In Amazon’s patent filings, they hypothesized that these blimps could be positioned near sporting events. This would let small drones delivery concessions and/or food to the crowd. The small delivery drones would also require little to no power in their descent from the bigger airborne fulfillment drones.
You won’t see these blimp-like drones for a while. Amazon is already having a tough time getting their delivery drone fleet off the ground due to cost and regulations. Once they perfect that and delivery drones become the new normal, then we’ll start to hear more about these fulfillment drones. Until then, you should get to know your friendly neighborhood UPS guy, because he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.