Amazon has filed a patent for a rather bizarre underwater storage center, where packages can be called by acoustic tones and be ready for delivery. Yep.
The idea first came to light earlier this year, but it has been making the rounds again. The patent dubs it an “aquatic fulfillment center”, which would store goods at the bottom of lakes and other bodies of water.
Waterproof containers with goods inside would be dropped into the water from the air by a parachute. Depending on their density, they would then sink to different levels. Pulses or acoustic tones could then be used to move items or bring them to the surface by changing the density of the packages.
This could be done by changing the charge of the air inside the package, such as how lightning ionizes the air as it streaks through, to change its density. Alternatively, control valves could add or remove a fluid from a “flexible bladder” to change the volume.
Balloons could also be used to bring packages to the surface, ready for distribution. It’s not entirely clear how these would then be delivered, although Amazon has patented an “airship” idea before. And, of course, it’s also working on its drone delivery surface.
Why would Amazon want to use this method? Well, the patent offers some clues. It notes that existing fulfillment centers “now include increasingly large and complex facilities having expansive capabilities and high-technology accommodations for items, and feature storage areas as large as one million square feet or more.”
An aquatic centre, on the other hand, could make better use of vertical space. The patent notes that staff currently have to walk many miles in warehouses to retrieve items, but that wouldn’t necessarily have to be the case with this automated underwater system.
It’s worth noting that large companies often stock up on patents, with many never seeing the light of day. One of the more famous instances of this was when rocket company Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos (who also owns Amazon), filed a patent for a floating barge to land rockets on. This sparked a dispute with SpaceX, with the latter emerging victorious.
So there’s a pretty good chance this will never see the light of day. But hey, maybe at some point in the future your drunken purchase will be fetched from the bottom of a lake and flown to you before you’ve even woken up.