Amazon fulfillment centers, typically single-story warehouses located in suburbs, do not meet its goal of low-cost deliveries to city dwellers.
Amazon’s patented solution is multi-story, drone-delivery behive center warehouses smack in the middle of major cities.
If Amazon has its way, cities around the US will have vertical drone centers shaped like giant beehives in the middle of downtown districts, allowing the online retailer to coordinate speedy deliveries by unmanned aircrafts.
The company has filed for a patent for so-called “multi-level fulfillment centers” that would accommodate the landing and takeoff of drones in dense urban settings, the latest example of Amazon’s futuristic vision of reshaping the way people receive packages.
The application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which was written in 2015 and published last week, included a number of drawings of drones flying in and out of tall cylinder-shaped buildings that Amazon wants to locate in central metropolitan areas.
The centers could be used to fulfill hundreds of thousands of orders a day, in part relying on a large volume of drones that continually pick up deliveries and can recharge their batteries at the site. The drone centers could also have a “central command” to control flight operations, which would be similar to a flight controller at an airport, Amazon said.
UK Test (Well Sort Of)
Last December, the Guardian reported Amazon claims first successful Prime Air drone delivery.
The trial was open to two customers in the UK who have huge gardens, live close to an Amazon depot and want items that weigh less than 2.6kg (5.7 pounds).
I fail to see why a patent was even granted for this concept.
A patent for flying drones out a building? What’s not inherently obvious about that?
Behive Readiness, Suburbs vs Cities
The beehive concept could potentially work in cities or suburbs dominated by single-family detached homes, assuming the FAA will allow such deliveries.
However, I am having difficulty envisioning thousands of drones buzzing around Chicago, making deliveries to the 75th floor of an apartment or to the first floor of any busy neighborhood street with hundreds of people milling about and no place to land.
This is the best I can come up with:
City dwellers with Prime service are given a device that emits a signal. They schedule the delivery somewhere on the street at a specified time. The drone knows the code of the device and can distinguish that person from other random persons on a busy sidewalk.
The Prime customer issues a signal and the drone lands or lowers the item by rope from 50 feet in the air.
Even this remarkable scenario does not work for downtown Chicago where there is an enormous amount of walking traffic and no place to land, and lowering a package onto a crowded street is problematic.
Cities dominated by apartments are not behive ready.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
the gangs will use the drones for target practice
Medex Man said:
And they will get a patent on the games too!
What is all of this really — propaganda! The whole drone delivery thing is humorous. It is Amazon attempting to show that it is something more than a not very profitable modern day Sears. If Bezos was going with this strategy then why did he buy WF. Does he really have a strategy. This is all a PR stunt to say look we really are a tech company. Besides what is the weight capacity of a drone. Yeah it might be able to deliver a CD (but why not download). Okay call me a luddite but a long time before Amazon or even the internet came along I looked at delivering CD’s through the mail. When I saw the margin on it at a retailer I said forget it. Over half the people in the US have no money and soon will have no credit. We still have a multiple of the retail space in use of other countries. Color me skeptical. Retail sales will go into the tank and that includes Amazon’s sales. One last thing, a big driver of retail sales and probably Amazon sales is due to loans for people to go to post secondary school. At some time this money losing proposition is going to be discontinued by the federal govt. Watch Amazon and Apple’s sales dive into the crapper.
When the drones become more numerous and start crashing into airplanes and helicopters, that is going to be problem. Will helium party balloons have to be banned so they don’t get tangled up with drones? Will people with pellet guns knock down the delivery drones to steal the goods? Seems there are a lot of potential problems with this.
As my grandma used to say,,,,”All fun until someone gets hit in the eye.”
Brings back memories, I was one that got hit in the eye. Wasn’t funny at the time but brings a smile now reading your Grandmas words.
“Everbody’s got a plan until they get hit” – Mike Tyson
“It’s only funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s hilarious!”
~ Leslie Nielsen
No problems, the project will stimulate employment.
– For each drone there will be a ground crew that tails it at ground level.
– Should the drone enter into difficulty, the rescue squad will be called in to liquidate all obstacle to fair and safe delivery of goods.
– Arms sales will increase.
– Protective clothing, armour, will increase.
– The power of weapons will increase.
– The creation of new forms of armour will become a market maker.
– Tinky will receive her tin of cat food on time.
I simplify as I am not allowed to divulge full detail of company policy, however as a pointer to what our future will look like, I leave you with our future logo, it’s a game changer:
” Amazon, we openly conspire because you cannot “
Reminds me of Egyptian Pigeon Houses – is that where we are heading? Does Bezos get to keep all the guano too?
Oh dear, Egyptians are going to be tabbed for copyright infringement.
Steve K. said:
Apartments were originally a problem for satellite TV as well, but that got worked out. Perhaps Amazon will give away (with a Prime subscription, of course) drone delivery pads that you can install at a location of your choice. Maybe these even have homing beacons to help the drones find them. Wait…I need to file a patent application!
John Smith said:
That’s a good point. If someone could solve a completely different problem then obviously this one can be solved too.
Another step in the progression of delivering stuff to people who buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.
I wonder if this also leads to drones to pick it all up later and deliver it to the landfill?
Michael Rutkaus said:
So that would be Drones Beehiving Badly?
And at the end of the day, the call for all drones to return to base would be …
Drones. Beehive yourselves! 🙂
Stuki Moi said:
Direct delivery “drop boxes,” installed in windows or on balconies, aren’t unfeasible. Lots easier than the “comport themselves reasonably while engaged in running gunbattles through Manhattan rush hour” “Level 5” autonomous cars, that the boosters claim are right around the corner.
Not sure about using prime downtown highrise space for warehousing cheap Chinese goods, though……. Would rather have 90% of the journey done by truck, with the drones flying off the top of the container for the last mile. But if Amazon can really do hundreds of thousands of deliveries a day from one of these hives, the sheer scale may favor the centralized-highrise-as-distribution-point model.
As far as patents go…Useless lawyers run America now. Not technologists. And to someone sufficiently dumb and useless, nothing is obvious. Everything from picking a booger and on up, seems like some massively impressive intellectual feat, and an “invention.” With the only exception being, that it is obvious that “we” “need” a government to shake down others on their behalf.
Rocket delivery allows for warehousing to be placed in degenerate neighbourhoods, suburbs, and open country even. For now degenerate neighbourhoods have launched the strongest appeals for the new system to be built in their area, and have shown great willingness to contribute towards all areas of the enterprise, with a complete overload of applications for command and targeting duties, however field tests have only taken place in open country.
We will see how public opinion evolves before making a firm commitment on location.
LOL! GRAD to see that technology finally applied to peaceful purposes.
Has the great advantage of being made with cheap foreign labor. There might be an issue with noise and a resulting NIMBY attitude. Also, breakage upon delivery (impact) may be a problem unless payload dispersal is actually desired (and you thought your UPS guy was bad). No parachutes in those little devils, you know.
Yes, we are running cost of ‘failed intact delivery’ calculations as ratio of total expenses. So far we have received no complaints, in fact no contact from any recipients whatsoever that indicate our targeting and delivery are off mark in any way.
I think we can safely conclude that our customers are at peace with our technology, and fully satisfied with the integrity of the post-delivery service available.
Army surplus at bargain prices.
What happens when these things crash and start buildings on fire? What about all the infrastructure to refuel them? Or handling the fuel itself? How many days of the year are the weather conditions actually sufficient to fly without ice, rain, etc., being problems?
“What about all the infrastructure to refuel them? Or handling the fuel itself?”
Battery powered with electric motors. However, everything else you said are valid questions. Lithium polymer batteries can and sometimes do burst into flames from an internal or external short after a major crash.
Toy airplane batteries don’t go that far. Liquid fuels are likely to be required for any meaningful amount of range.
Your grandparents probably said the same thing about the Wright Flier.
Home delivery leaves the Whole Foods housewife more time with her boyfriend. Or she could use the time to have her hair and nails done. The other 99% of us would rather thump our own pineapples.
Yeah, I don’t see this system being hacked with all kinds of hilarious and/or hazardous results. (/sarc)
Today Amazon announced they’re planning to use unmanned drones to deliver some packages to customers within five years. Cool! How fun would it be to take over drones, carrying Amazon packages…or take over any other drones, and make them my little zombie drones. Awesome.
Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.
SkyJack also works when grounded as well, no drone is necessary on your end for it to work. You can simply run it from your own Linux machine/Raspberry Pi/laptop/etc and jack drones straight out of the sky.
SkyjackNet? We are getting closer!!!
Medex Man said:
Kids will send up their own drones to race the Prime Locusts (I call trademark on the use of Locusts to describe clouds of drones clogging up the sky)
And some kids…. will try to have a smash up derby with the drones. Winner gets the box of stuff the Prime Locust was carrying
In my neck of the woods this is going to lead to a revitalization of the sport of Skeet hunting.
BillyBob Texas said:
And the crazy thing is……instead of a bunch of feathers and a couple oz’s of meat….you’ll end up with a new computer, pair of rainboots, a new bedspread, a diamond necklace – or perhaps even a case of shotguns shells to reload your anti-aircraft defense system……
Or maybe a pizza that crash landed.
As you suggest, Mish, the patent is completely invalid, but Amazon’s power in the Federal government is great….But down the line, if they attempt to enforce it, the courts will have their say.
If I were a municipality, I would require that Amazon show proof of a very large insurance policy covering these drone operations…
Stuki Moi said:
Gotta keep the FIRE leeches in splendor, after all. At the expense of regular consumers ,and those who bother creating something consumers find useful…….
Amazon can pay, or negotiate their way though, any “insurance” requirement. Smaller potential competitors can’t. So the end result of that “requirement,” is, as usual in Dystopia: 1) Big corporations make out perfectly fine. 2) FIRE leeches make out like robber barons. 3) Tax feeders make out as well, since lobbying money will be handed their way to make sure the “requirement” is formulated in a way benefiting the two former groups .
While those paying for the largesse, are consumers and the little guy.
If you kamikaze someone with a drone, that’s a criminal matter. Murder/manslaughter/whatever. Not something one “buys insurance” against.in a civilized society
Not that there’s any overlap between progressive and civilized, so I’m sure the former, who are the rulers of this Dystopia as of current, have not the slightest problem hawking Indulgences like some pre Reformation Pope.
Medex Man said:
(1) This violates existing “patents” and is a copyright infringement on Battlestar Gallactica movies. The “hive” concept also violates those Resident Evil movies
(2) I wish I knew Milla Jovovich, but even without meeting her I am certain that Bezos is no Milla Jovovich
(3) Another pre-existing invention is the skeet shooting target range… can street gangs get patents on games to shoot these ridiculous things out of the sky?
(4) There is already a beehive, filled with bees, in backyards all over the world
(5) How does a swarm of really noisy locusts fit in with city beautification projects?
Jon Sellers said:
“I fail to see why a patent was even granted for this concept.”
Nowadays, company’s try to patent any thought that comes into someone’s head. Amazon’s intention is to be a monopsony provider of all things. They need a big moat around the company lest capitalism and competition take hold.
And I agree that this will work in suburbs only.
For some reason, it seems Silicon Valley firms have a need to put out press releases of some kind of amazing new gimmick that is just around the corner. Amazon is really just the Sears catalog of the 21st century. None of this gee-whiz stuff ever seems to really happen.
It keeps anyohe else from patenting it and shutting Amazon down.
One would think that nanotech assemblers and mature 3D printing will be widely available before this concept turns a profit. The atmosphere is a huge resource, pipe in some additional substances and make all the things you want. Like with our role model, nature.
The infrastructure costs and package size and weight limitations, among other things, makes this sound really dumb.
Medex Man said:
I just know my neighbors and I are going to use these drones to send back returns filled with what are dogs leave in the backyard. I wonder if we can send the returns back in flaming paper bags?
Medex Man said:
with what ***OUR*** dogs leave in the backyard. and what Silicon Valley employees used to build voice recognition software. How many AI bots does it take to confuse ARE and OUR?
Brian Gray said:
I suspect that Amazon will get more benefit from deliveries to more rural areas where the cost to send a human in a truck is much higher for the one package in that square mile.
(City package cost per truck VS Rural package cost per truck)
Further, I imagine deliveries could be set up on many of these building’s rooftops.
Short notice document delivery point-point can be a lucrative business and drones very interesting for that in the City of London, NY etc. Financial centres in general. Cuts through traffic, low cost.
Doesn’t necessarily need Amazon for that.
BillyBob Texas said:
So….will we be able to claim “Fighter Pilot Ace” for knocking down 5 of the enemy drones?
I reckon there’s gonna’ be a LOT of ‘Hunter-Killer’ teams out there – and a car full of ‘scavengers’ following their own killer drones to pick up the packages that come raining down……
Good luck with THAT !!
Look up “ship Wreckers”
Many cities have microphones placed throughout to detect gunfire. Many more have cameras everywhere. The drone has every second of the flight logged and will know exactly when the impact occurred. The first guy might get away with something, but after that all the facial recognition from driver’s licenses, and DAs building a reputation as a hard-ass prosecutor and all they’ll need to do is say “Let’s roll the tape.”
Oh, and the FAA has repeatedly said that small UAVs (drones) are aircraft and shooting one down is the same as shooting down a 787.
Its about the sport.
22 cal with suppressor makes it challenging in target AND detection.
Michael Sykes (@MJ_Sykes) said:
What a ridiculous, competition-killing patent!
There’s a TED talk in this link. The interesting part happens about 12:00 into the speech.
Lots of opinions about drones here, I wonder how many people have actually flown one? I’ve been flying about 6 months now, mostly practice and fun but with an eye toward a career change. Once you get above about 100′ or so you can’t hear them, depending on wind direction. 200′ up with my Mavic Pro and you can’t see it either. And most of the commercial models out there aren’t stable enough for big telescopic lenses (yet), so no way you’re going to spy on neighbors. Besides, that’s just plain rude. As far as shooting them down and stealing the package, there’s going to be a lot of surveillance associated with them, from just geolocation and flight data telemetry to cameras and even other drones as escorts monitoring the area. After all, once they’re automated it’s just a matter of building them. But in the short run I’m thinking they’ll be used for things like pizza delivery where it’s already pretty high margin, largely automated and short distances. That and things like emergency items like (as mentioned in the TED talk) defibrillators and anti-venom. There’s a company that makes a hook that uses the landing gear on a DJI Inspire 1 to carry small packages like mylar emergency blankets, water and energy bars to stranded hikers until the search and rescue guys can get them out.
But realistically, there’s still a way to go. Only a very few can fly in rain or even heavy winds. And the battery life will be a major problem for years. Legislators are hell bent on keeping them out of the sky and there’s plenty of FUD being generated by the manned aviation industry, the terror-industrial complex and even media companies that don’t want more competition from a bunch of kids live streaming news, especially when they’re still paying for SkyChopper 9.
What elevation do home owners own air rights? I assume there must be some minimum height or they will be running into roof tops.
I’m thinking a directional focused EMP gun.
Very strict rules in the UK. Paraphrasing the UK Drone Code:
– Keep your drone within your line of sight and at a maximum height of 400ft (122m)
– Make sure your drone is within 500m from you horizontally
– Always fly your drone well away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
– If fitted with a camera, a drone must be flown at least 50m away from a person, vehicle, building or structure not owned or controlled by the pilot.
– Camera-equipped drones must not be flown within 150m of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert.
At least one hobbyist has been convicted and fined over £3000 when the wireless signal failed and the drone flew off on its own – no damage or people were involved – it just landed on another property and he could not retrieve it. Not sure how many prosecutions in total.
Have to laugh at the camera restrictions, given the number of cameras in London.
The courts have never set a precedent for air rights. The closest thing to air rights is a case that was decided during WW 2 where the army air corps built an aerodrome next to a chicken farm. The farmer sued because the chickens were spooked by the noise from the very low flying planes and would run into the walls of the coups. The court ruled planes had to maintain a minimum altitude of 85 feet above ground level when flying over the farm. Other cases of airports having height restrictions are more to maintain safety for aircraft, not to avoid ground disruptions.
The FAA claims regulation of all the airspace from ground level on up. Obviously they don’t give this much thought in practice because otherwise we would have to get permission to plant a tree. But they do dictate building heights around airports, so a lot of it is like Jesse Helms’ definition of pornography: I know it when I see it. If the FAA determines it is safe, then you’re ok. If not, it won’t happen.
The first guy who patents anti-drone intercepts will make a killing.
BillyBob Texas said:
“A killing..?” I’ve seen YouTubes where The Crazy Russian hangs an AK-47 on one and completely obliterates his target – who happens to be inside – but sitting in front of a window. WOW!
Another time he ‘flys’ the drone (with a bomb hanging from it) and has it exploding upon impact with the front window of the target’s car.
Honestly, I don’t know HOW you would be able to stop all of this type of thing…..it’s gonna’ get ugly……
Drones are wirelessly/gps controlled so can be commandeered pretty easily. All you need to do is knock it off the wireless network/gps and reconnect (even if you don’t it will be lost to anyway). The software is open source. From the developer:
“Today Amazon announced they’re planning to use unmanned drones to deliver some packages to customers within five years. Cool! How fun would it be to take over drones, carrying Amazon packages…or take over any other drones, and make them my little zombie drones. Awesome.”
(Oops! Apologies to Greg – just saw this same link was posted above yesterday.)
They’re manually controlled for now. I have an app that lets me upload waypoints to my Inspire 1 and it will fly without any control at all. This isn’t a case of a remote emulating stick moves, it is all within the aircraft’s processor. It is limited by a small memory, but that’s only in this design. More storage for this activity will mean longer distance flying and true autonomy. The main thing holding up drone delivery today is battery life and regulation. And to a lessor extent public opinion.
More patented hype from the BS master
real people have doorman to accept package delivery h
Sam I Am said:
Why don’t any of the articles on this topic discuss the potential for drone noise pollution? Or will they be stealth drones?
You sound like the people who say self driving cars are decades away.
I said in major cities
Coming first to suburbia
Your ideology is amusing at times. Being in the auto industry, there are so many more hurdles that need to be overcome before we have “truly autonomous” vehicles, yet your vision for that is “No problem, sooner rather than later”.
I actually see drone delivery and flying around big cities as a no brainer! Drones are highly capable and the technology involved is much more advanced. Not sure why it’s not happening already!
Victor Adam Smith said:
New Burger Robot Will Take Command of the Grill in 50 Fast Food Restaurants
Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike May Have Gone Too Far… The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline.