Amazon has tried to patent all kinds of crazy ideas, like drone motherships, a way to return gifts before you get them, and an airbag for your phone.
Now, it's successfully patented a way to store packages underwater. We've got no idea if this is anything more than some Amazon engineers spitballing, but it does look cool.
Cruise on through this gallery for the basics of how it could work.
OK, so we've got some packages at the bottom of a pool, with conveyor belts up top. Hopefully they're waterproof...
First step: Amazon fires an acoustic signal (sound waves) into the pool, to tell the desired package it's time to come out.
Each package is (theoretically) equipped with with tanks of compressed air and ballast -- much like a submarine -- plus a flexible bladder on top of the package that expands into a balloon when compressed air is pumped in.
When the hydrophone hears Amazon's sound waves through the water...
...out pops the balloon.
Now that it's got an inflated balloon, the package rises to the top of the pool.
There, jets of compressed air (or another similar propulsion mechanism) guide the package to the conveyor belt at the exit, where an arm (or gate) shuts behind it to ensure it doesn't fall out.
The packages might be your typical rectangular boxes...
Or they might be this fancy new cut-corner model that Amazon envisions.
Amazon is also thinking further ahead -- for instance, how would a week's worth of shipments fit into a pool and come out in the right order?
What if there were even more packages -- could Amazon stack them by submerging them at different depths?
Would this system work underneath a public body of water, like a lake, instead of a dedicated storage facility? (The patent argues it could, perhaps with signal towers installed.)
Or would it make more sense to store both the packages and the body of water underground?
Amazon didn't explain why storing packages underwater was a good idea, but we assume it's all part of some grand plan. No matter which way the company goes -- if it chooses to go this way at all -- it's amusing to think we might some day open a box that'd been stored underwater.