As if operating a warehouse on the ground wasn't challenging enough, Amazon has patented the design of an "airborne fulfillment center" – basically, a flying warehouse that can hover high in the air and deliver goods to consumers and businesses below.
The AFC, as it's called, will act as a "launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes," according to a CNBC article that also includes schematics of the proposed project. The airship or blimp "would float at an altitude of around 45,000 feet" and be "stocked with lots of products."
"When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down (from the airship) and deliver the package," the article says. "Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land."
The blimp would remain airborne and would be refueled and restocked by shuttles, allowing it to quickly deliver goods. One example of its usage listed in the patent was at a sporting event to deliver merchandise and food straight to a spectator's seat. No more yelling for the beer guy, I suppose.
Amazon was awarded the patent in April, the second from the company involving drones, but details were only unveiled last week of the company's latest stab at disrupting distribution.
It's the second time in two weeks I've written about Amazon's new technologies, even as our readers tell us the company poses less of a threat now than in recent years. But as a new year begins, here's hoping you have resolved to think creatively and come up with new ideas, even if they're not as outlandish as a flying warehouse.
Because who knows what Amazon – or one of your competitors – will think of next? More than likely, 2017 will bring more stories about how companies are innovating and disrupting. Hopefully none of them will ground your business.