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Amazon looks to use airships as floating distribution hubs

Amazon.com Inc. has filed for a patent to use airships to store products and serve as a base for delivery-drones.

The patent application was filed two years ago but was spotted only on Wednesday by Zoe Leavitt, an analyst at technology data and research firm CB Insights.

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A patent filed by Amazon.com about two years ago for the use of airships to store products and serve as a base for delivery-drones was recently uncovered by an analyst at technology data and research firm CB Insights. (Amazon.com/United States Patent and Trademark Office)

According to the patent filing, drones launched from the so-called “airborne fulfillment centers” (AFCs) would use far less power than those launched from the ground.

The AFCs would hover at about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters) and be restocked and resupplied by “shuttles or smaller airships.”

Amazon, which was not immediately available for comment, has laid out plans to start using drones for deliveries next year.