An Amazon patent from April that describes floating warehouses was recently found by CB Insights. These “Airborne Fulfillment Centers” are essentially floating warehouses that use drones to deliver packages to nearby locations. The airships would cruise at 45,000 feet and get restocked via smaller blimps deployed from earthbound warehouses. They wouldn’t be totally automated though, as “workers” are listed as being “inbound items” to be transported from the restocking blimp to the AFC.
Amazon suggests the AFC could be positioned near a stadium during events, like a football game, to sell specific items that the crowd might want, like “sporting paraphernalia” and food. They’re also described as being able to “present advertising” from an “advertising altitude” of 2,000 feet. The AFC would use sound and images to advertise what was in stock and how much was left, updating in real time as people order items.
Obviously, these floating warehouses are much further from reality than Amazon’s no-checkout grocery store. Amazon has flirted with the idea of using drones to deliver orders to customers, but only just completed its first drone delivery on Dec. 7.
Find Amazon’s patent here.