Ecommerce giant Amazon has a patent for an airborne fulfilment centre (AFC) which would be used to service deliveries made by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘Drones’.
The centre, which would be supported by an airship, could reach high altitudes of around 45,000 sq ft, where drones would be deployed with ordered items to delivery destinations.
According to the patent, as the UAVs descend from the airship supported centre, they would be able to navigate horizontally towards the delivery location using little to no power. Smaller airships, or ‘Shuttles’ may also be used to replenish the centre with inventory, fuel, supplies and potentially fulfilment centre workers.
The AFC could be positioned above a metropolitan area, where a user could order an item online from.
Once the item has been delivered, the UAV would travel to a nearby ground materials handling facility or shuttle replenishment location. The high altitude of the centre means that travelling back to the AFC after delivery may not be feasible or efficient.