Amazon Patents Fulfillment Center Towers to Increase Drone Delivery Efficiency

These skyscrapers would replace traditional warehouse models, serve as drone charging hubs, and allow UAVs to pick up and drop off packages faster than ever.

byMarco Margaritoff| PUBLISHED Jun 27, 2017 11:00 AM
Amazon Patents Fulfillment Center Towers to Increase Drone Delivery Efficiency

Amazon filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2015 that showed something called "multi-level fulfillment centers" and last week, that patent was made public. According to the patent, Amazon is planning on launching these towers in densely populated cities to serve as more efficient versions of traditional warehouse-based fulfillment facilities.

If all goes well, these skyscrapers would allow for autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to pick up and drop off packages from all floors of the building, which would significantly increase delivery efficiency. Currently, the classic warehouse model can be improved in two major ways: situating the new and improved "fulfillment centers" within major cities, as opposed to on their outskirts, and by stacking delivery hubs on top of each other, instead of relying on a single-story model.

Having a hard time picturing these buildings, or how exactly Amazon's drones would enter and exit them? Thanks to the now published 2015 application from Amazon, we have a much clearer look and informative explanation of this conceptual design which could soon become reality. Check out the diagrams included in Amazon's filing below. 

Amazon Technologies Inc.
Amazon Technologies Inc.

"By locating the fulfillment centers within the cities, items may be more quickly delivered to the growing population of people that live in the cities, as well as the large population of people who work in the cities," the application said.

 In addition to the proximity of "fulfillment centers" to recipients of packages being delivered, these drone-hubs further boost aforementioned efficiency by serving as charging stations for the UAVs. According to The Guardian, these hubs could increase current delivery statistics to hundreds of thousands per day, which would be an enormous feat for Amazon. 

In addition to having autonomous drones fly in and out of these nearby fulfillment centers, charge while there, and cut down on delivery times, these hubs will also include central command centers to essentially serve as air traffic control stations similar to those you'd find at an airport. This reminds us of Project Wing' air traffic management systems being developed right now, and vital to controlling a fleet of drones simultaneously. To add even more efficacy to this impressive design, the fulfillment centers will allow for traditional truck deliveries at ground-level, making them seemingly all-encompassing when it comes to the shipping and delivery world. 

All in all, this is a really impressive system being worked out and refined, and we can't wait to see how this evolves. We'll be sure to keep you posted. Who knows, we may find ourselves in a world where these Amazon Towers are fully operational in every major city in America. Stay tuned.