Amazon patent underwater storage concept

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Amazon are on a bit of a roll with their patents at the moment and have just got a real doodie… they’ve patented the act of taking your FBA items (and their own retail stock), popping it into a waterproof container and dumping it in the nearest pond.

The thinking is that warehousing facilities are very expensive and Amazon are building them as rapidly as they can. Not only are the premises expensive but they come with business rates so what makes more sense than to dump your stock in the nearest reservoir?

The patent is quite far reaching and describes how each container would have an inflatable bladder which can be activated by sonar. Not only can a container be surfaced, but Amazon propose partial buoyancy to enable them to stage stock at different depths – roughly equivalent to having different floors in a conventional warehouse. The patent suggests that Amazon will forecast daily demand for any particular product and load a day’s supply at a time into the containers so that they’re delivered to the packaging line to meet demand.

“Upon receiving an order for the item, the depth control device may be configured to cause the density of the container to fall below the density of the liquid, e.g., by increasing a volume and/or decreasing a mass of the depth control device, thereby causing the item or the container to naturally rise to a surface or upper portion of the body of liquid, from which the item or the container and the device may be retrieved. Additionally, while an item or a container may be vertically positioned by varying a net density of the item or the container within a body of liquid, e.g., using a depth control device, the item or the container may be horizontally positioned by subjecting the item or the container to natural or artificial current flows in one or more directions, with such flows being initiated or halted by natural or artificial means.”
– Amazon ‘Aquatic storage facilities’ Patent

Don’t think that this is limited to a warehouse with a swimming pool next to it, Amazon also describe “a storage pool, a basin or another natural or artificial facility“. A natural lake could be used with parcels parachuted in from planes and then the retrieval involve the parcel floating down a river to the packing facility. It’s more likely that dumper trucks would simply tip the containers into a reservoir, and water jets would ‘stir’ the parcels to ensure that the required box wasn’t buried irretrievably beneath a stack of heavy items.

It’s an interesting concept but as with all Amazon patents very far fetched and the question has to be asked “Are Amazon serious or have they simply patented the concept to stop others using the idea?”.

8 Responses

  1. $10 says they’re gonna file a patent to store their crap on the moon next.

  2. this one’s actually rather ingenius.

    i mean you have to be dealing with amazon level scales but, rather than build a new warehouse/depot/fulfilment centre at a substantial outlay, and significant running costs (or the roomba-powered warehouse they did which i’m rather impressed with)
    this is a largely cost-negligible self-operating system.

    screw having to sort it when something inevitably goes wrong, but on paper at least, (professional frogmen hired to recover lost pallet of pencil sharpeners) this is rather a novel solution that could potentially work.

    how are they getting the patents for this crap though? this was done in the A-team movie with a shipping container and car air bags (sans the sonar and product, or understanding of the physics involved).

  3. “… and have just got a real doodie” ?

    That would imply you think it’s a crap idea.
    You possibly mean ‘doozy’, which would be ingenious or outstanding.

    Personally, I think the whole plan will sink without a trace ….
    … or it’s just yet another way to get the Amazon name free advertising, whilst trying to get people to link the brand with innovation and fun.

  4. I have also a concept to store pallets with Kites and Air Balloons to avoid business rate, Can I have free advertising?

  5. Hmmm – I have a feeling the absorbent products we sell aren’t going to like this! Also it would be putting the contents under pressure – albeit not a huge amount, but swim to the bottom of a pool when you have a bit of a cold or blocked nose, it’s a lot of pressure on top of you.


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