A newly printed patent from Amazon has outlined a brand new methodology of launching objects into the air utilizing a miles-long whip hooked up to a fleet of aerial craft. The patent, which was noticed by GeekWire, was filed again in March 2017 however solely grew to become public earlier this week. It muses that the tactic might supply an energy-efficient manner of launching a payload, probably sending it into low Earth orbit.
It’s a fairly wild concept. Amazon’s patent reveals the whip hooked up to a marine car (learn: a ship) by way of a winch at one finish and an “aerial car” carrying the payload on one other. Alongside the whip is a collection of extra aerial automobiles that assist generate the whip waveform and will additionally draw energy by way of the whip itself.
Whereas it’s amusing to think about Amazon in the future utilizing this methodology to whip particular person packages onto porches around the globe, the patent’s description and pictures counsel that its inventor has payloads like satellites in thoughts. It might make a very good match for Amazon’s plans to make use of a community of satellites to supply web around the globe, much like SpaceX’s Starlink plans. Launching that many satellites is dear, although. SpaceX tries to scale back the prices of its launches by reusing components of its rockets. Perhaps Amazon’s equal may very well be an enormous whip?
In an announcement given to GeekWire, a spokesperson from Amazon mentioned that patents like these “don’t essentially replicate [its] present product roadmap.” It added, “Like many corporations, we file quite a few forward-looking patent purposes that discover the total potentialities of recent expertise.”
Certainly, Amazon has filed loads of patents previously which have thus far failed to come back to something: there was its floating airship warehouse in 2016, its supply drone beehives in 2017, and a drone that responds once you shout at it in 2018. At this level, we wouldn’t count on its large whip to be any completely different.