Walmart Imagines Floating Warehouses That Could Rain Down Delivery Drones

While Amazon has dreams of delivery drone beehives and parachuting packages, it’s not the only one looking upward: Walmart has plans for a floating warehouse capable of launching flying delivery vehicles so it can rain discount goods on you from the skies.

Walmart filed a patent for a “gas-filled aerial transport and launch system” that sounds a bit like a blimp: it would involve “a carrier compartment where the gas chamber induces a lifting force on the carrier compartment” and at least one propulsion system, as well as a “navigation control system” that controls where the aircraft goes.

There will also be several launching bays for unmanned aircraft systems that allow drones to be launched while the “the transport aircraft is in flight and while the UAS is carrying a package to be delivered.”

The machine could fly anywhere between 500 and 1,000 feet, and someone on the ground would be controlling it as well as piloting drones out of the launching bay as they head toward shoppers’ homes.

Amazon filed a patent for a similar system last year for floating “airborne fulfillment centers” that would hang out over high-population area or evens like festivals and sporting games. Those AFCs would be stocked with commonly purchased items, instead of acting as dispatch centers for specific orders.