Amazon’s newest development has taken the internet by storm, and mainly because it looks like a beehive. One of the structure’s potential designs also bears a striking resemblance to a giant gherkin.
That’s all besides the point though: it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and that’s lots and lots of drones. Amazon calls them “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles,” according to a patent application the company recently filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office. In essence, they will be hubs for the drones Amazon plans to employ in its delivery practices.
Putting these hubs in the middle of crowded urban neighborhoods is a feasible possibility since their design lends themselves towards being built vertically, according to the company’s application.
Despite the exciting process Amazon is obviously making on its drone delivery service, patent applications are nothing new for the company. In 2017, 206 have already been assigned to the company, according to Latestpatents.com.
The application also gives more specific hints about the drones’ structure. One development is “trailing edge fringes,” which are hair-like materials that would attach to the end of the drone’s blades in an effort to dampen the sound the machine makes along with concepts like “leading edge serrations,” “sound dampening treatments” and “blade indentations for sound control.”
The application also includes designs for drones with multiple sets of rotors and motors to take over if one fails — which is necessary for ensuring that the drones don’t, frankly, fall from the sky and give innocent pedestrians concussions.
It’s more than fair to assume the hubs would be integral to Amazon’s anticipated Prime Air delivery option. The service would deliver packages that weigh less than five pounds to customers within 30 minutes via drones that can fly at a maximum of 400 ft and 50 mph.
The company is testing the service with development centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, France and Israel, in addition to a UK-based private trial that the company has been pretty silent on the specifics of. All that it will say, on its Prime Air “Frequently Asked Questions” page, is that the trial is being used “to continue improving the safety and reliability of [its] systems and operations.”
These developments, plus the company’s recently announced forays into clothing and grocery sales, mean that the future of shopping is very likely to be shaped by Jeff Bezos in one way or another.