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Leading companies have been experimenting the use of drones to revolutionise deliveries. A key problem facing any deliveries is batteries and maintenance. How do you keep the drones charged and in the air for as long as possible?
Amazon, which has been trying to develop technologies in this field for some time, recently filed a patent that reveals it is thinking about a fleet of mobile maintenance facilities based on trains, in vehicles, and on boats.
The filing, published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, reflects the idea of building special facilities that can store, repair, and deploy drones, and pre-emptively moving products and drones to areas of anticipated demand (based on seasonal trends, say, or a special event in the area) before launching them.
According to businessinsider.fr, Amazon’s ambitions are still in their infancy. It has carried out a few carefully stage-managed trials in Cambridge, but it still seems a long way off commercial deliveries — much less building a sophisticated network of mobile infrastructure to support those deliveries.
Also, there’s no guarantee Amazon ultimately builds this. Big tech companies file thousands of patents a year, and not all of them make it into finished products.
Still, the patent — and others like it — offers us a window into the kind of problems Amazon’s engineers are grappling with, and how they might ultimately hope to solve them.
For example, Amazon has previously filed for a patent for a beehive-like tower for storing its fleets of drones — or as it calls it, a” multi-level fulfilment center for unmanned aerial vehicles.”
A foldable wing was examined by the company at the beginning of the year as a possible solution for delivery drones which have to lift off with packages and then fly away horizontally at speeds of up to 50 mph to make deliveries within a half-hour.
Amazon is also thinking about using its drones to scan your house while carrying out deliveries in order to try and sell you more stuff. If it spots one of your trees is dying, it might recommend some fertiliser to you with an advert on its website, for example. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.