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Amazon Awarded a Patent for 'Airborne Fulfillment Centers'

Amazon's  role as  a disrupter of supply chain and logistics practices and driver of change in the sector has taken on an even more futurist dimension with US  media reports asserting that the e-commerce giant was recently granted a patent for what can best be described as 'flying' warehouses which would serve as hubs for drone delivery activity on a large scale.

While the company has not confirmed the reports, in a filing to the US authorities in April last year, viewed by Lloyd's Loading List, it outlined plans for 'airborne fulfillment centers' (AFCs) and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to deliver items from the AFCs to users.

The filing stated: “For example, the AFC may be an airship that remains at a high altitude (for example, 45,000 feet) and UAVs with ordered items may be deployed from the AFC to deliver ordered items to user designated delivery locations.