A newly published 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 spotted by GeekWire, was filed again in March 2017 however solely grew to become public earlier this week. It muses that the tactic may supply an energy-efficient means of launching a payload, probably sending it into low Earth orbit.
It’s a reasonably wild concept. Amazon’s patent reveals the whip hooked up to a marine car (learn: a ship) through a winch at one finish and an “aerial car” carrying the payload on one other. Alongside the whip is a sequence of further aerial autos that assist generate the whip waveform and will additionally draw energy through the whip itself.
Whereas it’s amusing to consider Amazon at some point utilizing this methodology to whip particular person packages onto porches world wide, the patent’s description and pictures counsel that its inventor has payloads like satellites in thoughts. It may make a superb match for Amazon’s plans to make use of a community of satellites to supply web world wide, just like SpaceX’s Starlink plans. Launching that many satellites is pricey, although. SpaceX tries to cut back the prices of its launches by reusing parts of its rockets. Possibly Amazon’s equal might be an enormous whip?
In an announcement given to GeekWire, a spokesperson from Amazon stated that patents like these “don’t essentially mirror [its] present product roadmap.” It added, “Like many corporations, we file quite a lot of forward-looking patent functions that discover the complete potentialities of recent expertise.”
Certainly, Amazon has filed loads of patents up to now which have to date 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 if you shout at it in 2018. At this level, we wouldn’t count on its big whip to be any totally different.