Amazon stacks up delivery drone patents
Amazon has been stacking up on patents for new delivery drone concepts over the past year or so. At the tail end of last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approved a Amazon patent for counter-measures to protect delivery drones from hackers and thieves. And now it has recently emerged that back in April the USPTO also approved an Amazon patent for an “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery”. Or, as the media would have it, giant flying warehouses and drone fleets.
The airborne fulfilment centre patent was unearthed by CB Insights journalist Zoe Leavitt.
Essentially, the airborne unit will function like a mobile “pop-up” FC, which can be quickly deployed in locations where Amazon expects to see a surge in demand for a particular line of items. The patent gives the example of a “football game” where fans will be eager to buy “sporting paraphernalia” – but one imagines that it could also apply for other large-scale gatherings, such as musical festivals.
USPTO granted the patent on 5 April 2016, but Amazon filed the document back in December 2014 – the same month that it also submitted a patent for a docking station and relay concept which observers have dubbed a “Pony Express-like” system for delivery drones. As previously reported, the USPTO granted a patent for the drone docking station system in July 2016.