Inc has filed for a patent to use airships to store products and serve as a base for delivery-drones. 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. According to the patent filing, drones launched from the so-called “airborne fulfillment centers” (AFCs) would use far less power than those launched from the ground.
The AFCs would hover at about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters) and be restocked and resupplied by “shuttles or smaller airships.” The AFC can function as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), but the patent application includes a provision for shuttles to the airship. There is a known Airship with a dual configuration that can work as a manned or unmanned vehicle. The Airlander-10 crash landed, but the test flights were successfull. The Airlander-50 is a bigger version, specifically meant for lifting heavy cargo.
The drones on board the airship can use very little energy on their way down, which would help Amazon cut costs during delivery. The patent covers an inventory management system, and drones can also be used to ferry goods from one airship to another. Amazon, which was not immediately available for comment, has laid out plans to start using drones for deliveries next year.
With inputs from Reuters