Amazon Patent Tips Drone Delivery Tower

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It's becoming increasingly clear how serious Amazon is about using drones to create an autonomous Prime Air delivery network. The latest bit of evidence pointing to a human-free parcel delivery system is a new patent Amazon filed for a beehive-like fulfillment center.

Amazon's existing network of fulfillment centers, where packages are stored, sorted, and shipped out, take the form of huge warehouses covering large areas of land. That means they can't be located in densely populated areas, which just so happen to be where most of Amazon's customers reside.

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Delivering packages from within crowded urban environments would be ideal, and that's where the beehive design comes in. According to The Mercury News, Amazon envisions skyscraper-like buildings in urban areas. At the base would be large doors for trucks to reverse into the building, while the upper floors allow for multiple landing and takeoff areas for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Once the building is operational, trucks would deliver thousands of orders, which are then distributed inside the building to the awaiting drones higher up the structure. They would then take off and deliver goods to customers.


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You can see why it is being referred to as a beehive when you consider the constant flow of drones leaving and returning to the fulfillment center. The height of the structure may also end up being key because drones aren't exactly quiet. Having hundreds of them flying about will act as noise pollution, unless they never get anywhere near the ground.

Inside the facility there may end up being no human workers at all, with engineers only having to visit the facility when something goes wrong. Eventually even that may not be required because we're sure to get on-site robots that can fix drones and other machinery vital to the beehive's operation.

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