Imagine a facility that resembled a beehive-like tower, with drones hovering around it. That could be Amazon's vision for a new fulfillment center, and it looks like something from the future.
The online retail giant's patent application for the new facility was filed in December 2015, and published on June 22 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Amazon imagines the towers will be filled with robots, and drones can restock in the docking stations before flying out for delivery.
In the patent filing, Amazon says its fulfillment centers are regulated to the outskirts of urban areas, where there is plenty of room for the large warehouses. But that could hinder business, as the facilities are far away from cities and not convenient for quick deliveries. Amazon plans to change that by building structures that blend into urban landscapes, where drones can be utilized for faster shipping times.
Like its fulfillment centers now, the design includes plans for robots that help human employees complete orders. However, these robots may also carry drones that will need to receive maintenance, be recharged, or restocked. What's more, to prevent a drone break-in, Amazon describes plans for landing platforms with locked doors that authenticate a drone before it's allowed to enter.
Amazon has been making waves since it announced it would buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion on June 16. The deal brings Amazon into hundreds of physical stores and helps it achieve a long-held goal of selling more groceries.