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Amazon Plans to Launch Drone-distributing Flying Warehouses

Amazon Plans to Launch Drone-distributing Flying Warehouses

(Getty/Leon Neal)

By    |   Thursday, 29 December 2016 10:06 AM

Amazon.com Inc. reportedly has been awarded a patent for a giant flying warehouse that will also launch drones to deliver items within minutes.

The U.S. e-commerce giant described plans for an "airborne fulfillment center" (AFC) such as an airship or blimp that would float at an altitude of around 45,000 feet, CNBC reported.

“When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down and deliver the package. Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land,” CNBC explained.

"When the UAV departs the AFC, it may descend from the high altitude of the AFC using little or no power other than to guide the UAV towards its delivery destination and/or to stabilize the UAV as it descends," the patent filing explains.

The airship could also be used as a giant advertising board, allowing customers to order the items on display. All of these can be ordered "within minutes."

Amazon's filing explains that the blimp would remain in the air and be refueled and replenished using a shuttle. If this plan saw the light of day, Amazon would likely need regulatory approval from aviation authorities which could be complex, CNBC reported.

The patent application was filed two years ago but was spotted only on Wednesday by Zoe Leavitt, an analyst at technology data and research firm CB Insights, Reuters reported.

Amazon, which was not immediately available for comment, has laid out plans to start using drones for deliveries next year.

Earlier this week, Amazon said it shipped more than 1 billion items worldwide this holiday season, which the top online retailer called its best ever, Reuters reported.

The Amazon Echo home assistant and its smaller version, Echo Dot, topped the best-sellers list, said Jeff Wilke, chief executive of Amazon's worldwide consumer division, in a press release. "Despite our best efforts and ramped-up production, we still had trouble keeping them in stock," he said.

Sales of voice-controlled Echo devices were nine times more than they were during last year's holiday season, the company said. Amazon did not disclose comparable sales figures from a year earlier.

"It's all relative to other numbers that they’ve never told us," said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

Amazon likely sold between 4 million and 5 million devices this year to date with Alexa, the voice-controlled assistant on the Echo, estimated Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy in a research note. Shoppers can command the Echo to perform a host of tasks, from playing music to turning on Christmas lights.

"While Amazon's device sales are still relatively small growth drivers currently, we believe the proliferation of these devices will drive more ubiquitous use of Amazon services over time," said Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian in a note, pointing to customers ordering more items by speaking to the Echo.

More than 70 percent of Amazon users shopped using a mobile device during the holiday, Amazon said.

(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).

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Amazon reportedly has been awarded a patent for a giant flying warehouse that will also launch drones to deliver items within minutes.
amazon, drone, flying warehouse, airborne
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2016-06-29
Thursday, 29 December 2016 10:06 AM
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