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Published On: Thu, Jun 29th, 2017

Amazon May House Drones in Delivery Beehives, Patent Shows

A new patent filed by Amazon hints at a unique delivery system that would house and launch drones from a beehive-like structure.

The beehive towers would serve as a multi-level fulfillment center that would allow the ecommerce giant’s delivery drones to launch and land. The vertical structures would be designed to blend in with high rises in urban areas.

WMCH drone photo by Clément Bucco-Lechat via wikimedia commons

The patent application, according to Chicago’s WGN 9, was filed in December 2015, but was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday. The patent application included drawings depicting drones flying in and out of the cylinder-shaped structures.

The beehive-shaped structures would allow Amazon to make speedy deliveries in urban areas, where it’s more difficult for the company to maintain large warehouses.

The drone takeoff system is also detailed in the application. Once an order is packaged and ready to go, an “internal transport robot” would move a drone from a holding area onto a platform to charge up and takeoff.

“By locating the fulfillment centers within the cities, items may be more quickly delivered to the growing population of people that live in cities, as well as the large population of people who work in the cities,” said Amazon in its application.

The multi-level fulfillment centers could be used to fulfill hundreds of thousands of orders each day, as drones continuously pick up deliveries and recharge for its next flight.

Amazon said the centers may also have a central command area that controls flight operations, similar to the flight controllers at airports.

There’s no guarantee that Amazon’s plans will come to fruition, as patents don’t always see the light of day. But the filing gives investors and consumers an idea of the online retailer’s vision for the future of drone delivery.

The company filed a patent in April 2016 for blimps carrying drones, which would be used for quick deliveries. Amazon also announced plans in 2013 for Prime Air, a service that would use drones to deliver packages.

Not everyone is excited for Amazon’s futuristic drone delivery system. A report from The Verge questions whether people would want to live and work near a building that makes so much noise. They also questioned what would happen if drones fell from the sky.

For what it’s worth, Amazon has proposed placing “sound dampening treatments” on the rotors of the drone to prevent noise pollution.

In the UK, Amazon has filed patents for mega delivery drones and flying warehouses.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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