With the introduction of delivery drones and a checkout-less convenience store, Amazon is revolutionizing the way the world buys things. But the company’s latest patent is perhaps its most ambitious idea yet.
CNBC reports that Amazon has been awarded a patent for what it describes as an “airborne fulfillment center” (AFC) — basically, a huge, mobile warehouse full of products that could be delivered to consumers in seconds.
The AFC would be suspended at about 45,000 feet in the air and be filled with products. When customers place orders from their phone, a drone would grab their product from the AFC and fly it down to customers below.
I just unearthed the Death Star of #ecommerce via @cbinsights... AMZN patent for airborne warehouses at 45K ft spitting out delivery drones pic.twitter.com/qEz2ilUtJP
— Zoe Leavitt (@zoe_leavitt) December 28, 2016
The AFC resembles a large blimp, and would be refueled and restocked with products in the air by aerial shuttles. The delivery drones would also be able to recharge after they return to the aerial warehouse.
The patent says the AFCs would be used at outdoor events with thousands of people, like sports games or music festivals. Like the blimps that hover around the biggest sporting events, the AFC would also double as a giant billboard and advertise products available for purchase.
CNBC also reports that the patent was awarded in April. Patents only grant a company the sole right to produce their invention for a certain period of time, and they do not necessarily mean the idea will ever be introduced.