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Amazon files patent for 'Death Star' flying warehouse

A drone flying over a human face forever

In an image straight out of a dystopian consumerist vision of the future, Amazon has filed a patent for a huge flying warehouses equipped with fleets of drones for airborne drops.

The patent describes the airborne fulfillment center (AFC) as an airship that could remain at a high altitude, at around 45,000 feet, with a fleet of drones "to deliver ordered items to user designated delivery locations."

"As the UAVs descend, they can navigate horizontally toward a user specified delivery location using little to no power, other than to stabilize the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent," said the patent.

One benefit of the AFC is having items delivered to users within minutes of placing an order, it said.

The flying warehouse may be "positioned at an altitude above a metropolitan area and be designed to maintain an inventory of items that may be purchased by a user and delivered to the user."

The patent suggested the AFC could also be used for events such as football matches, with the airship navigating to the location of the event and delivering items.

"In some implementations, the AFC may navigate to a lower altitude and provide advertising for the temporal event or for other occasions (e.g., product announcements, product releases, sales)," it said.

The document was filed in 2014, but was found by Zoe Leavitt from CB Insights, who tweeted yesterday: "I just unearthed the Death Star of #ecommerce via @cbinsights... AMZN patent for airborne warehouses at 45K ft spitting out delivery drones."

Amazon is yet to make drone deliveries widely available. However, earlier this month it made the first commercial delivery using a drone in Cambridge.

The company has not responded to a request for further comment. ®

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