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Robotic Small Item Transport Over A Rope or Microrail

  [vote for,

For remote communities, establishing a proper rail link is expensive. For speedy link of occasional small items, a UAV is recommended. This idea aims to provide a way to economically link transport of daily goods and parts to hard to reach areas.

This is a system where a zipwire lines (or two for duplex transport), is placed between a remote community and a distribution hub. A micro 'monorail' is used between heavier links.

Transport is performed by battery powered robots that can zip across the zipline to the destination. It has enough intelligence to deal with zipline interchange tower, so that a single zipline can split to two different towns.

Much like the internet, each distribution hub is connected to another distribution hub, where a parcel can be considered a "packet" sorted by a routing algorithm. Meaning a town, can send to another town with minimal human intervention. A physical internet one might say.

This will not total replace railways, trucks and UAVs. But in between the need for speed/convenience, and the need for cost efficiency, this may have its use. E.g. Getting a set of parts to maintain various equipments in a town.

mofosyne, Jun 11 2014

The recreational model... Gondola_20with_20the_20Wind
[normzone, Jun 11 2014]

[bungston] Yes, messages used to be delivered like this, and you were expected to tip the messenger... http://bluehourstud...y-meetup-goals.html
(scroll down just a little) [normzone, Jun 11 2014]

The Museum of Retro Tech. http://www.aqpl43.d...m/MUSEUM/museum.htm
Fascinating [8th of 7, Jun 12 2014]

Cash baskets http://www.ids.u-ne...cash/cashbasket.htm
The indoor version. [8th of 7, Jun 12 2014]

Here's my similar suggestion Existing_20Utility_..._20Delivery_20Route
[doctorremulac3, Jun 12 2014]


       This sounds familiar ... an idea about transporting items using existing overhead power and phone cables.
8th of 7, Jun 11 2014

       Now that friendly drones are bringing us Cuthbert and chicken, this zipline scheme seems old fashioned. But doable with precomputer technology. I wonder if there were interbuilding zipline communications in built up cities like NY and London back in the 1920s?   

       As far as ziplines out to the boonies I worry the towers would be expensive. Unless you can induce volcanoes to build them on, like the Unorthodox Engineers did.   

       As far as CGI mayhem I can definitely imagine a zipline race above the lava-bubbling monster shuffling alien landscape. A good opportunity for the protagonist to fire his guns backwards to propel himself along faster. And when he reaches one of the helium balloon tethers (because monsters climb the towers) he grabs on, cuts it loose and floats away like Curious George, leaving his pursuers to try to reverse course back along the falling zipline.
bungston, Jun 11 2014

       // interbuilding zipline communications in built up cities like NY and London back in the 1920s?//   

       In London (and probably in NY) there were networks of (usually underground) tubes that carried canisters, powered by compressed air.   

       But before that, in the late 1800s, there was indeed a system of zipwires, which radiated out from towers (either purpose-built, or the tops of existing buildings). Boys were employed to run up the towers with the wicker baskets that were used, and then send each basket along the right wire to its destination or to its next waypoint. It was possible, using this system, to send a decent- sized parcel from Greenwhich to Haringey in about six minutes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 11 2014

       I wonder if the remnants of those ziplines still exist.
bungston, Jun 11 2014

       I'm bunning this even though similar ideas have been proposed, specifically for use on existing power cables etc. as 8th pointed out.   

       Small package delivery routes via micro road/pathway/cable whatever, especially in big cities make a lot of sense. Basically a physical version of the internet sending real packages instead of data packets. With addressing technology that we have now it makes more sense than ever.   

       I'd like to see some bold entrepreneur create a grocery store with five minute delivery of your order over an infrastructure they built going to test neighborhoods.
doctorremulac3, Jun 11 2014

       //I wonder if the remnants of those ziplines still exist.//   

       Yes! On the towers of St. Sepulchre's Church and St. Bride's Church, there are the wrought-iron attachment points for the old wires. There are probably more.   

       (Minor aside: the tower of St. Andrew Holborn church was severely damaged and almost brought down, due to all the wires therefrom running either north or northeast, causing an unbalanced load. Conversely, at least one tower _did_ collapse when the wires were removed in the late 1800s, because they had been acting as braces while the tower's timbers decayed.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 11 2014

       //a grocery store with five minute delivery of your order over an infrastructure they built going to test neighborhoods. //   

       Did someone say "trebuchet" by any chance ?
8th of 7, Jun 11 2014

       I have heard that these systems caused "issues" on Sundays; when the bells are rung it is normal for the tower to sway a bit, however when all the towers are ringing at once the swaying could get a bit much, so to prevent snapping they organised a rota of service start times. Some of these regular service times are still used today, you can see if you go onto the parish websites.
pocmloc, Jun 11 2014

       //Did someone say "trebuchet" by any chance ?//   

       No. That was the intercalary sneezing.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 11 2014

       //Did someone say "trebuchet" by any chance ?//   

       No, but that's an interesting idea.   

       Some "settling" of contents may occur during shipping but you'd get it quick.
doctorremulac3, Jun 11 2014

       I am so delighted to learn about these zip wires in London! It is exactly the sort of Victorian technology I imagined. If something like that existed in NY or Chicago I have never heard of it and I love that stuff.   

       Max, what did they call these things? Not zip lines apparently. Where did you learn about them? Can you link up a book or other reference?
bungston, Jun 11 2014

       //what did they call these things?// At one point they were just called "wires" (as in to send by wire, or to wire something).   

       I presume the system overlapped, in time, with the telegraph - so I'm not sure if there was confusion over the terminology.   

       Come to think of it, I don't know why nobody ever thought to combine the two systems (ie, use the "zip lines" for telegraphy); but I have a feeling that the zip lines weren't steel cables, and that copper wires wouldn't have been strong enough to use as zip wires. (You need a certain amount of weight in the basket, or it risks getting stuck part way down the wire.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 12 2014

       Yes, stuck baskets were a problem. Pity the young children forced to crawl out along the wires to free jammed pulleys. They had to be small and light to avoid overstraining the cables, which sometimes happened, with predictably tragic results.
8th of 7, Jun 12 2014

       Wire you worrying? The young child shown in the second link is doing fine. And no lines from zippers are showing.
normzone, Jun 12 2014

       //young children forced to crawl out along the wires to free jammed pulleys.//   

       No, but children and small adults did travel in special harnesses to reach baskets that were stuck. Other than that, they were forbidden from riding the wires, although some did. Perhaps surprisingly, there are no records of any fatalities in the operation of the system, and it's unlikely that a fatality over busy London streets would go unrecorded.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 12 2014

       Weren't they called "Maundell wires" at some point?
pocmloc, Jun 12 2014

       It's possible - Maundell was certainly credited with popularizing the system, after it had been used for several years by (I think) Fortnum & Mason as a purely private enterprise.   

       (In fact, the system never made money for Fortnum's, but it was run at a loss because it was such an excellent advertisement for their business. Only when it became a network covering much of central London, and open to public use, did it become economically viable.)   

       [EDIT - "Maundell Wires" gives no meaningful hits on Google; perhaps you're conflating the person with the technology.]
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 12 2014

       //Where did you learn about them? Can you link up a book or other reference?//   

       I think there's a mention of them in "The Victorian Internet" by Tom Standage (though it deals mainly with telegraphy), but I've lost my copy. There was also an article in the Sunday Telegraph (!) some time ago.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 12 2014

       There's a page about it somewhere in The Museum Of Retro Tech (q.v.) which also covers Pneumatic tube systems and mechanical amplifiers.   

8th of 7, Jun 12 2014

       I'm pretty sure something LIKE this idea, maybe not exactly like this, but similar to this idea is going to re-surface in reality. Driving to the store to get a carton of milk and some gum in the data age seems really backwards.   

       The technology has been sufficient for years, it's just the roadway that's needed. I think existing power / communications poles with cables on the top are the no-brainer answer.   

       This sounds like the kind of hair brained idea Google should fund. (See link)
doctorremulac3, Jun 12 2014


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