Amazon’s engineers are cooking up some wild ideas on how to integrate drones into major cities. In the latest patent filing, the e-commerce giant shows how special facilities connected to trains, boats, and vans could be used as storage space and repair stations for drones.
The drones would be moved to areas of anticipated demand and fly out from the mobile hub.
“The intermodal vehicles may be coupled to locomotives, container ships, road tractors or other vehicles, and equipped with systems for loading one or more items onto the aerial vehicle, and for launching or retrieving the aerial vehicle while the intermodal vehicles are in motion.”
“Additionally, intermodal vehicles may be loaded with replacement parts and/or inspection equipment, and configured to conduct repairs, servicing operations or inspections on aerial vehicles within the intermodal vehicles, while the intermodal vehicles are in motion,” said Amazon in the filing.
Having mobile storage and repair units may help Amazon deploy thousands of drones without having to spend a large amount on warehouse space inside major cities. We could even see Amazon use the transport for both supply and storage, with the drone taking items from the same truck or train.
Amazon clearly going all-in on drones
It should be noted Amazon is filing quite a lot of patents to do with drone travel and storage. It patented a zeppelin concept that had drones delivering parcels from above and mini zeppelins supplying the mother. A few weeks later it filed a vertical warehouse in the shape of a beehive.
Even with all these filings, Amazon is still a few years away from any serious drone deployment. The company has conducted a few tests in the U.K., but has yet to integrate drones into any of its Prime services and the laws on drone use are still in flux across most of the world.