The U.S. e-commerce giant described plans for an "airborne fulfillment center" (AFC) such as an airship or blimp that would float at an altitude of around 45,000. The airship will be stocked with lots of products.
When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down and deliver the package. Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land.
Amazon's filing reveals several uses for the warehouse blimp. One example is at a football match where customers may want certain items such as food or merchandise. Ahead of the game, the AFC could stock up on items and deploy these during the game with drones when they are ordered. The airship could also be used as a giant advertising board, allowing customers to order the items on display. All of these can be ordered "within minutes".
The drones would be able to communicate with each other via a mesh network to give information such as weather and route. UAVs could also recharge on the airship.
Amazon's filing explains that the blimp would remain in the air and be refueled and replenished using a shuttle. This could be a smaller aircraft capable of docking onto the AFC and unloading products as well as fuel.
Medical, police and Military Applications
The Amazon blimp and drone delivery would be as close as might get to Star Trek replicators and teleportation for near instant provisioning.
At 45000 it would be 8.5 miles straight down. Everything within 10 miles or so would be about a 13 miles flight.
If it takes 5 minutes for an order to selected from within the blimp.
20 minute deliveries should be possible.
Emergency deliveries of medicines or defibrillators could be possible within 11 minutes. The emergency items could have priority position within the warehouse for less than 1 minute selection. Then special faster drones could delivery those urgent items.
130 mile per hour emergency drones could make 13 mile flights in 10 minutes.