We’ve all heard before about Amazon’s plans to deliver orders via drone, but a recently-unearthed patent shows the company could one day push the concept to a startling extreme. Discovered by Zoe Leavitt, an analyst for CB insights, the patent describes an “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery” – what is essentially a giant flying warehouse in the sky.

amazon, amazon drone warehouse, amazon fulfillment center, amazon flying fulfillment center, patents, amazon patent

The airborne fulfillment centers would exist aboard a giant airship, floating at altitudes of around 45,000 feet. As Amazon orders came in, individual drones would be deployed to deliver the goods. Smaller airships would be used to return the drones, resupply the fulfillment center with new inventory, and shuttle workers back and forth from the facility.

amazon, amazon drone warehouse, amazon fulfillment center, amazon flying fulfillment center, patents, amazon patent

While drones launched from the ground have a fairly limited range, the aerial deployment would allow the drones to cover a much wider delivery area. The warehouses would also be mobile, allowing Amazon to easily shift position depending on consumer demand. For example, the patent explains one of the warehouses could be positioned near a stadium during a game to allow fans to immediately purchase team merchandise or snacks during the game.

amazon, amazon drone warehouse, amazon fulfillment center, amazon flying fulfillment center, patents, amazon patent

Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane

The concept is just that for now – there’s no indication that Amazon will de deploying drone-carrying blimps in the near future. However, don’t be surprised if airborne drone delivery one day replaces FedEx or the postal service.

Via The Verge

Images via Zoe Leavitt and Wikimedia Commons