Whether you see it as “borderline dystopian” or simply a really fun way to receive your online deliveries largely depends on your view of the world, but either way, a video purporting to show an Amazon blimp surrounded by drones has understandably created quite a stir on social media in recent days.
To be clear, the clip (below) is actually a computer-generated effort created by a digital artist in Japan who goes by the Twitter name Zozi009.
— zozi(厳島神社の人） (@zozi009) March 31, 2019
What makes the video particularly interesting is the fact that it appears to be inspired by an Amazon patent that surfaced several years ago for what the company described as an “airborne fulfillment center.” In other words, a floating warehouse that uses autonomous drones for deliveries. Amazon has been working hard on developing a delivery drone since 2013, though we’re pretty sure the floating warehouse is still nothing more than a sketch on a piece of paper.
Yes, it’s a crazy idea, but the video makes it look impressively real, so much so that it may have Jeff Bezos and his buddies back at Amazon HQ thinking, “Hey, we might actually be able to pull this off.”
In the video, the delivery blimp, which is surrounded by a fleet of drones as it moves slowly through the sky, is seen floating at a considerably lower altitude than the 45,000 feet described in the patent. According to Amazon’s own filing, a delivery drone would collect an item from the blimp before falling partway to the ground. A couple of thousand feet up, the drone’s engine would fire up, allowing it to fly to the customer’s address.
Once the delivery is done, the drone, with its power mostly depleted, would make its way to a nearby shuttle that would fly it back to the blimp for recharging in preparation for its next delivery.
The documents suggest the system would work particularly well at football games where the drones could drop off merchandise and snacks in a specially designated area close to the stadium. No, we don’t think it’ll happen either.
Another Amazon patent that Zozi009 might want to explore with a video is a ground-based drone tower that looks rather like a giant beehive, complete with buzzing sounds. The tower is designed for deliveries in urban areas and incorporates numerous exit and entry points for delivery drones. It’s a marginally more realistic idea than the floating warehouse, perhaps, but one that at the current time would likely leave safety-conscious regulators wiping a bead of sweat from their brow at the sheer horror of it all.
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