Amazon patents ‘aquatic fulfillment centers’

Inflatable underwater bags
An underwater warehousing system could use inflatable bags to retrieve packages. In this picture, divers with the Israeli Defense Forces’ Underwater Missions Unit use a lifting bag to transfer equipment. Photo by Israel Defense Forces via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Amazon has patented some crazy ideas, including flying fulfillment centers that drop packages from the air. But its patent for “aquatic fulfillment centers” could be the craziest one yet.

The concept calls for warehousing packages underwater in specialized tanks – or even in a designated area of, say, Seattle’s Lake Union. Packages could be dropped from the air, parachute down to the water, and then sink to a specific water level based on its density.

When it’s time to select a package for delivery, a coded series of acoustic tones could be beamed through the water, activating a device on the desired package to inflate a balloon from an attached cartridge of compressed air. The package would then float up to the surface for retrieval and shipping.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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