The massive online retailer company Amazon, which recently acquired the grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, is attempting to push even further into the future of internet commerce. The company has recently patented a “multi-level fulfillment center for unmanned vehicles,” or in simpler terms, a drone skyscraper. As co.design discovered, while patents do not necessarily mean this tower will be created, the plan has detailed sketches showing a giant beehive from where drones would fly in and out.
Designed for densely populated areas, the tower would have robotic arms that would be able to grab drones from the sky. Inside, the core contains layers of spokes around the central hub, which would repair the drones or load them with goods. Then elevator systems would move drones to their launch points along the building’s facade, channeling air upwards through the building to reduce damage to any drones that fall. The launch points would be spaced in an alternating pattern making a clear path for each drone.
Last spring, 6sqft wrote about a similar project that reimagined New York City’s tallest and most expensive tower, 432 Park Avenue, as a terminal for drones. Called the Hive, the building would provide personal and commercial services to city residents. The facade would be covered in docking and charging stations, with drones hovering around the tower like buzzing bees. The Hive Proposal won second place in eVolo’s 2016 skyscraper competition.