To recap just how "out of the box" they are, here's what Amazon has designed in just the last three years:
Even so, 2018 yielded some even weirder ideas from Amazon. Behold these four inventions:
The Infamous 'Worker Cage'
This structure doesn't necessarily help Amazon's perception of its employee treatment policies. It's been widely reported on already, and a spokesperson has said there were never plans to use it. Still, they did go through the trouble of patenting the plans, and who's to say it would be that awful anyway? After all, if there are going to be robotic arms flinging boxes through the air, you might not mind a safeguard here and there.
A Real-Time 'Accent Translator'
If you're from New Jersey, this software could--hypothetically--allow you to finally understand that one Cajun client you have in New Orleans. In theory, the system would rely on a database of audio samples to "translate" a different accent in real-time (if it's matched) so that what you hear comes out in your own dialect. Nope, not a joke.
A Drone Chute For Quiet Deliveries
Who would have thought that one of the things standing in the way of autonomous, flying mail carriers was the fact that boxes make so much noise when they hit the ground? To be fair, the patent for this feature is intended to solve a lot more than just that one problem. It also negates ground interference for the drones as well as minimizing damage to packages.
But if you are going to deliver with drones, apparently you'll need something else.
A Flying Distribution Center
Amazon applied for this patent back in 2016, but it was officially granted this year. And yes, it's a blimp. Logical? Arguably. Wacky? Definitely. But I won't argue with walking outside to have my orders fall from the sky into my hands. Maybe Amazon has plans to evolve Google's Street View into Amazon Sky View (patent pending).*
Most of these designs will likely never make it off the page. In fact, it's tempting to say that if Amazon really wants to cut costs, they'd stop paying for engineers to draw up these seemingly silly plans... oh and for patent attorneys, patent writers, USPTO fees (let alone any objections), etc.
On the other hand, they're worth a chuckle at the very least, and if you want, Alexa will laugh right along with you.
*There's no patent pending