Global retail giant Amazon has filed for a patent to incorporate drones in the roofs of its future delivery vehicles, prompting speculation that the company could be about to launch a new mobile autonomous delivery service.
The company has already demonstrated drone deliveries in Cambridge city centre, and claims that its Amazon ‘Prime Air’ service will have the capability to deliver certain lightweight goods in less than 30 minutes from the point of order via automated deliveries from static central hubs.
But with the US patent application it filed last week, the delivery giant is proposing mobile vehicles with drones mounted in the roof, and in-built charging stations to ensure drone batteries are never depleted.
The vehicles would be deployed in areas of high demand, such as densely populated cities, or at events or product launches to service peak demand.
Amazon’s plans are similar to a concept developed by Mercedes-Benz Vans, which was unveiled at last year’s IAA Hannover Commercial Vehicle Show. The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van features roof-mounted drone pods, developed in conjunction with technology start-up Matternet, which are programmed before the van sets off on its prescribed delivery route to distribute its contents to addresses en route.
Amazon’s patent application also includes drones mounted in ships and trains, as well as road transport.