Amazon aims to patent warehouses on rails

Containerized fulfillment center

A diagram shows a rail-borne shipping container that serves as a mobile fulfillment center, with the capability to dispatch drones for package deliveries. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

If Amazon follows through on a pair of patent applications, future fulfillment centers could be transported on their rounds by trains, ships or trucks and deliver their goods with autonomous drones flying out from the tops of shipping containers.

The on-demand system for package delivery is covered in two applications that were filed a year and a half ago but published just today. The inventors are principal software engineer Brian Beckman and intermodal program manager Nicholas Bjone.

Their concept calls for putting all the hardware for a fulfillment center, including a robotic arm and a squadron of drones, inside shipping containers (also known as intermodal vehicles). The standard-size containers are designed to be easily transferred from ships to trains to tractor-trailer trucks.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Aerospace and science editor for GeekWire, creator of Cosmic Log, 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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