Amazon continues to push the envelope with patent for underground delivery model

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Dive Brief:

  • At the close of 2016, Amazon was granted a patent for a subterranean delivery system, Geek Wire reported Wednesday.
  • The patent description details a package transport network that employs conveyor belts, rails and pneumatic tubes, and which might connect to rail stations, airports, fulfillment centers, and customers. 
  • Amazon is not the first to imagine such a means of delivery, as Mole Solutions in Britain is currently testing a 344-foot demonstrator track, while Hyperloop, pioneered by Elon Musk, proposes the creation of a network of tubes through which magnetically levitating pods can fly at high speed.

Dive Insight:

Amazon’s focus on logistics is as unparalleled as it is innovative.

On Tuesday, an announcement came that the Air Transport Services Group, responsible for Amazon Prime Air, had purchased Pemco World Air Services. Pemco, which maintains a bevy of planes for various cargo carriers, specializes in Boeing 767’s, the model preferred by Amazon. This could be a signal that Amazon intends to ramp up its own carrier usage and decrease dependence on UPS, FedEx, or the USPS.

The main challenge preventing Amazon’s logistics dominance is market fragmentation. Considering that earlier this week, the e-commerce giant was granted approval on a patent for a blimp-like delivery source meant to serve large venues and outdoor events, the company is clearly determined to mine every possible method of delivery. While success in such areas as above the clouds or deep underground is probably unlikely, the determination and creativity shown is likely to keep the site far ahead of competitors.

Top image credit: Amazon via USPTO

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