Global-commerce giant Amazon has underlined its commitment to developing in-house UAV systems by filing another patent request.
Described in the patent, which was filed earlier this week, is an airborne fulfillment center (AFC) and the use of UAVs to deliver items from the AFC to users.
The AFC may be an airship that remains at a high altitude and delivery UAVs may be deployed from the AFC 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 stabilise the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent.
After completing an item delivery, the UAV may navigate to a nearby ground-based materials handling facility or a shuttle replenishment location. Because of the high altitude of the AFC, navigation by a UAV back to the AFC may not be feasible, or an efficient use of power.
By utilising an AFC for the storage and delivery of items using UAVs, the power required to complete an item delivery is substantially reduced. Rather than the UAV having to operate at power from the time it departs the materials handling facility to the delivery location and back to the materials handling facility (or another location), the UAV may be deployed from the AFC and descend under the forces of gravity towards a delivery location using little-to-no-power.
Only as the UAV approaches earth does it need to fully engage the UAV motors to maintain flight and complete delivery of the item.
While the online retailer is looking to develop the drone delivery division of its business, Amazon Prime Air, it is also looking to bring UAVs in-house to aid its warehouse management. Commercial Drone Professional previously reported the company had filed a patent request for warehouse UAVs.