Sci-Fi drone delivery

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Collecting new ideas for 2017? How about this latest from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters — The Seattle Times reported that just as 2016 was ending, Amazon filed for a patent on a “collective aerial vehicle.” That’s essentially a super-drone that consists of “smaller drones (stuck) together in various configurations.”

This would allow the super-drone to carry virtually any size, weight or quantity of items or travel longer distances. According to the application, the super-drone would be built in such a way as to allow the drones to fly together somewhere, then decouple to make individual deliveries.

If all this is sounding a bit too much like science fiction, just wait.

Amazon filed another patent that might be of note: Flying warehouses held aloft by blimps. These would float above a city at 45,000 feet and hold thousands of items and a fleet of drones. Gravity would make the drones more energy efficient, as they wouldn’t have to power up until they’re close to the ground. In this scenario, the drones could make their way back to the mother ship in a shuttle, accompanied by packages and workers (presumably not afraid of heights).

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first announced plans to explore delivery-by-drone in 2013, and apparently scientists at the company have been working overtime ever since. It might seem like science fiction today, but two years from now, will folks feel the same way?

Amazon’s first commercial drone delivery took place in the United Kingdom in December; it’s widely held that the use of drones would allow Amazon to lower its last-mile delivery costs to a few cents per package.

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