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Amazon patent envisages keeping drones in beehive-like structures for delivery

24 June 2017

Amazon has applied for a patent for tailoring its fulfillment centres for a future where drones delivered items to people's doorsteps in urban areas.

The e-commerce giant envisages beehive-like towers filled with robots, where drones could dock and be restocked before they flew off  again for the next delivery.

Amazon said in its patent application that its current delivery centres were relegated to the outskirts of urban areas, where enough space was available to accommodate a large warehouse.

However, with customers getting accustomed to speedy, on-demand delivery and services, where packages were delivered within a few hours or the same day, fulfillment centres located far away from densely populated urban areas were not always convenient enough.

In its application Amazon describes a tower capable of blending into an urban landscape, where drones could dock from multiple ports located on its exterior. Like its fulfillment centres now, the drone tower patent application included plans for robots that helped human workers fill orders and ferry items around the building. However, in this case, the robots may be carrying drones as well, which needed to be restocked, recharged or maintained.

According to the application, the towers could accept shipments from traditional trucks, or even boats if located close enough to a body of water.

The patent, which was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, was published on Thursday.

According to commentators, the tower would be especially useful to Amazon in densely populated areas, such as Manhattan, London, and Tokyo.

However, several regulatory hurdles would need to be overcome before Amazon started building the towers, in case it decided to push ahead with the idea for them.

They add, the drawings in the patent filing looked like it had been taken from a science fiction movie.

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