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Amazon’s Next Innovation: Aquatic Storage Facilities

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Amazon is on a roll with its patents, and its latest proposal could bring storage facilities underwater.

The e-tailer recently filed a patent for aquatic storage facilities that would make storing and retrieving items for online orders more efficient.

These aquatic storage facilities would have a system comprised of a storage pool filled with liquid. The items to be stored in the pool would be equipped with depth control devices that interact with the computers that would control the product’s density, causing it to sink or float to the surface. Water currents would also be used to move packages laterally while submerged.

Being able to control items in this way would allow for easier picking and packing of orders.

“Because today’s online marketplaces offer a wide variety of items to customers, including but not limited to goods, services, products, media or information, 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,” the company described in the patent. “Therefore, in order to prepare and ship an order that includes a large number or different types of items to a customer, a staff member or robot may be required to walk several thousand feet, or even miles, within a fulfillment center in order to retrieve the items in fulfillment of the order.”

[Read More on Amazon’s Innovations: Just How Much Time and Money Are Amazon’s Endless Fulfillment Centers Saving?]

In addition to the fulfillment logistics, the aquatic storage facilities would also minimize the inefficient use of space and streamline inventory operations. Unlike today’s fulfillment centers, the aquatic storage facilities don’t require set square footage or other equipment, including piping and ductwork, to store and move items. Amazon aims to place the facilities in major urban hubs, so humans or robots don’t have to travel excessive distances to deliver items.

Although it is unknown when these aquatic storage facilities will make their debut, Amazon also has other logistics-related patents in the works. The retailer has filed other logistics-related patents, including drone ‘beehive’ centers for package deliveries. With these innovations, Amazon could be pioneering a new era for e-commerce fulfillment in upcoming years.

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