amazon_airshipThe airborne fulfillment center is coming courtesy of Amazon

Amazon has filed a patent for what it calls an ‘airborne fulfillment center’ – a giant air ship which will act as a warehouse.

Do you ever get the feeling that you have stepped inside a movie? The latest patent from Amazon hints at a future that comes straight out of science fiction – whether that fiction is Star Wars or something more positive – a more utopian Start Trek tyke scenario perhaps – remains to be seen.

It is not giving away much of a spoiler to say that Peter Cushing – or at least Guy Henry (more famous for his role as a tyrannical boss in Holby City) disguised by computer graphics to look like the film star from half a century or so ago, as well as the original 1977 Star Wars movie – appears in Rogue One, a Star Wars Movie.

In the original movie, Cushing played a menacing figure, in command of the Death Star, the deadly space station.

And so Amazon has filed a patent for an ‘airborne fulfilment centre’, giant airships to hover some 45,000 feet in the air. Workers will travel to the centre via shuttles, and stock will be transported to the centre in the same fashion. Drones will then deliver products from the airship, largely relying on the force of gravity to power their downward journey.

The filing states: “The AFC may be an airship that remains at a high altitude (e.g. 45,000ft) and UAVs with ordered items may be deployed from the AFC to deliver ordered items to user-designated delivery locations.”

And continues: “The use of an AFC and shuttles also provides another benefit in that the AFC can remain airborne for extended periods of time. . . . In addition, because the AFC is airborne, it is not limited to a fixed location like a traditional ground based materials handling facility. In contrast, it can navigate to different areas depending on a variety of factors, such as weather, expected demand, and/or actual demand."

It says: “As the UAVs descend, they can navigate hozizontally toward a user-specified delivery location using little to no power, other than to stabilise the UAV and/or guide the direction of descent. Shuttles (smaller airships) may be used to replenish the AFC with inventory, UAVs, supplies, fuel, etc. Likewise, the shuttles may be utilised to transport workers to and from the AFC.”

And so that is the future, giant warehouses in the sky, up above clouds, shuttles flying in, drones flying out.

But will the commander be like Captain Kirk, or governor Tarkin, the character played by Peter Cushing?