Amazon Files Patent For Beehive-Like Towers to Serve as Multi-Level Fulfillment Centers for Drone Deliveries

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It seems as though Amazon is taking over the world with gusto first with buying Whole Foods and now drone delivery? Per CNN, Amazon has filed for a patent for beehive-like towers that would serve as multi-level fulfillment centers for its delivery drones to take off and land. The facilities would be built vertically to blend in with high rises in urban areas. One has to wonder what major buildings would be torn down to accommodate these “beehive” towers in major cities that are already built out to the max.

To give you background on Amazon’s drone and Amazon Air Prime initiatives we have to take a look back just a couple years ago on how the whole concept got started.

On December 1, 2013, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for Amazon Prime Air in an interview on 60 Minutes. Amazon Prime Air will use multirotor Miniature Unma ed Air Vehicle (Miniature UAV), otherwise known as drone, technology to autonomously fly individual packages to customers’ doorsteps within 30 minutes of ordering.

To qualify for 30 minute delivery, the order must be less than 5 pounds (2.26 kg), must be small enough to fit in the cargo box that the craft will carry, and must have a delivery location within a 10-mile radius of a participating Amazon order fulfillment center. 86% of packages sold by Amazon fit the weight qualification of the program.

In March 2015 the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Amazon permission to begin US testing of a prototype. The company responded by claiming that the vehicle cleared for use was obsolete.

In April 2015, the agency allowed the company to begin testing its current models. In the interim, the company had begun testing at a secret Canadian site 2,000 ft (610 m) from the US border. The agency mandated that Amazon’s drones fly no higher than 400 ft (122 m), no faster than 100 mph (161 km/h), and remain within the pilot’s line of sight. These rules are consistent with a proposed set of FAA guidelines.

That same year in December Amazon filed the patent application that featured several drawings of the beehive buildings which resembled a cylinder-shaped center and that looks like a UFO. The towers could support traditional truck deliveries and include a self-service area where customers can pick up items, the patent states. It also details how employees would attach the packages on drones.

In April 2016 Amazon also filed for a patent for blimps stocked with drones to make extra speedy deliveries. In the same year Amazon made its first drone delivery in the U.K. in December with plans to expand the service to dozens of customers near its British facility in the near future.

Currently Amazon has been granted a patent for a shipping label with a built-in parachute, designed for drone deliveries. The label “includes a parachute to enable the packages to be dropped from the aerial vehicle, yet land at the package’s destination without damage,” according to a patent dated Tuesday from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Amazon said its system could include a self-adhesive backing, parachute cords with shock absorbers and a breakaway cover. It could also adjust to a package’s size or even have multiple parachutes for larger or heavier items.

Amazon also received a patent for a method to guide packages released from drones to the ground safely. The document said the company’s drones would use magnets, parachutes or spring coils to release the delivery in mid-flight. This indicates that Amazon would release packages from the sky rather than landing a drone in a front yard, which requires more time and energy.

After reading both CNN’s articles and learning more about FAA drone regulations I have to wonder if this is a possibility. With the buying of Wholefoods will our groceries now be delivered from air or from a drone? Is our society ready for something like this or has it been a long time coming? Time will tell if this will be an effective move for Amazon.

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Source: CNN, Amazon, 60 Minutes, Wikipedia

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Nina Pena
Nina Pena is a technology and lifestyle writer based in Austin, Texas. Her technology knowledge stems from her experience working with Dell, Edelman and HP. Nina’s articles and product reviews cover the latest gadget and fashion trends for the last 8 years. A native Texan and former San Francisco resident, Nina brings a unique perspective to her coverage.She was a regular contributor for SF Examiner and CuteGeek.com until winter of 2017. In 2015 Nina founded and launched Hi-techChic.com, a site that includes technology and fashion product reviews, coverage of industry events and press releases.