How to Best Understand Amazon Drone Strategy

Executive Summary

  • Introduction to the Amazon Cargo Blimp
  • The Relationship Between the Amazon Blimp and Drone Delivery
  • How High Is the Amazon Blimp and the Will the Amazon Drones Begin Their Drone Delivery?
  • How Drone Delivery Would Work
  • The Amazon Drone Landing Pad



With Amazon progressing in both testing, pushing for regulatory changes to the FAA rules around drones delivering packages, and filing for patents for innovative ways of using drone delivery, people have begun to take notice of Amazon’s plans for Amazon drones. This brings up interesting questions regarding the future of parcel delivery service.

Blimps and Amazon Drones

While it sounds like Flash Gordon, Amazon is planning to build fulfillment blimps. Some media entities refer to them as flying “warehouses, Amazon, ” but that is likely an overstatement. But blimps with a cargo capacity of up to 250 tons have been designed (not by Amazon but by specialized blimp firms). The concept is to these blimps as loading platforms used to deliver packages by Amazon drones.

Positioning the blimp close to population centers, the blimps could be semi-permanent fixtures and be replenished with cargo from land-based warehouses that would land on the blimp. The blimps would incur minimal fuel cost (as they would not need to move) and maintain their position chiefly through the gas they use.

How High Is the Amazon Blimp and the Will the Amazon Drones Begin Their Drone Delivery?

One of the interesting and surprising pieces of information to come out of the patent that Amazon was awarded for its blimp-oriented design is that the blimp will float at 45,000 feet. This would be a height that a blimp could reside for long periods of time and would be away from air traffic.

How Drone Delivery Would Work

  1. Drones for Delivery Taking off From the Blimp: Drones taking off from the blimp and landing at homes and businesses could be tremendously efficient. They would use little fuel, and they would bypass the street system entirely.
  2. Drone Delivery Dropping from the Blimp: In the Amazon patent, the Amazon drones only go one way on their power. That is the drop from the blimp, but do not make the journey back to 45,000 feet as it would be too energy consumptive. Instead, they would fly to a grouping ground location and be sent up to the Amazon blimp using a shuttle.
  3. Drone Delivery Landing Pad: The Drones would not be human-piloted. Instead, a landing pad would produce a signal which is remotely activated by the Amazon network. The Amazon drone then would automatically navigate to a landing pad. The concept is that this landing pad could be laid out, and then after the drone made the delivery, it could be rolled up.
  4. Drones for Delivery Speed: One major draw of the system is its speed. This would allow Amazon to perhaps hours instead of days.
  5. Drone Package Delivery Package Specialization: Drone package delivery would not be for all types of cargo. Larger and heavier packages would probably still go through standard parcel delivery.

This video shows the Amazon concept of drones for delivery. 

This video shows the first drone delivery company. 

This video shows how drones are going through extensive innovation


Amazon has been making inroads into transportation with its Amazon Transportation Services, but this combined idea of a blimp with drones for delivery is pushing the envelope. Amazon is receiving most of the press on the topic of drones for delivery. And Amazon has a well-established level of ability to follow through on innovation. And of course, it has almost unmatched financial resources due to its stock price and the regard for Amazon in the investment community. However, many companies are experimenting with drones for delivery.

Right now, drones for a delivery look to be a few years away. Still, when the regulatory hurdles can be cleared, it appears the advancements in drone technology are making this technologically feasible. And, of course, a blimp as a flying cargo center a few years more. More likely than not, the Amazon blimp is only one part of the overall drone delivery strategy.


According to the DOT, trucking represents around 2/3rds of all transportation in the US.

Drone package delivery is just one method of transportation.