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Existing Utility Pole Monorail Delivery Route - now with 2 way tube

Alternative to UAV delivery - IMPROVED DESIGN - SEE BOTTOM LINK
  [vote for,

Amazon is working on UAV delivery of packages. I don't want to be a Luddite but it's got some problems. It's inspired by the American pizza company that promised "Your pizza in 30 minutes or less guaranteed." It only took a couple of million dollar lawsuits caused by minimum wage drivers killing people by driving recklessly to meet that 30 minute deadline to shut the program down. One UAV crashing in front of a car causing a fatal accident and the whole UAV delivery program gets shut down as well.

I don't want to see that happen. Therefore some thought should be given to creating appropriate paths for robotic delivery of parcels, away from civilian traffic that might be impacted by these things falling out of the sky.

I propose stringing cables along existing utility poles along which little unmanned package delivery scooters can travel. Customers can pay to have a delivery cable strung to their home just as they would pay to have a cable tv line installed. Using this system, anything from parcels to food to medicine could be delivered very cheaply, quickly and reliably.

These would be safe, quiet, could work in any weather and would not annoy by flying overhead day and night.

I'm just not crazy about the idea of fully autonomous vehicles swarming the skies in my neighborhood. Also not excited about the prospect of minimum wage UAV pilots taking the controls to steer that 10 pound 40 mile per hour missile the last 50 yards onto my front doorstep.

Design update: This power pole mounted delivery system shouldn't be cables, it should be an enclosed plastic oval shaped tube split into two parts like a subway (tubeway) underground train line.

This would keep the packages from being buffeted by wind and rain, prevent the sound of the robopods motors from annoying people and keep the deliveries hidden so bad guys wouldn't be tempted to grab some of those packages flying overhead. Plus they'd look kind of cool. I'll sketch it up.

doctorremulac3, Dec 02 2013

Robot delivery missiles http://www.usatoday...e-delivery/3799021/
coming to your neighborhood soon? [doctorremulac3, Dec 02 2013]

Suitable technology is already in development... Gondola_20with_20the_20Wind
...at least on the halfbakery. Think bicycle messengers... [normzone, Dec 03 2013]

I wonder how much these guys get paid - probably not enough... http://www.flixxy.c...cable-inspector.htm
[normzone, Dec 03 2013]

A better way to do it https://dl.dropboxu...very%20Tube-Way.jpg
Power pole tube-way [doctorremulac3, Jun 16 2014]


       // could work in any weather //   

       ... except severe icing, high winds, heavy snow, very heavy rain.   

       Vacuum tubes would be much better, as has been proposed before. A simple, reliable and well-proven technology.
8th of 7, Dec 02 2013

       Vacuum tubes would be very expensive, large and hard to install. The infrastructure to install cables on utility poles is already in place. Plus, vacuum tubes are never going to happen so there's that.   

       The cable track would work superbly in blizzards and hurricanes and if icing became a problem, the cables could be easily heated. Wind speed necessary to pull a mechanical device off of a half inch cable, eh, 200 mph minimum. Wind speed necessary to keep a fleet of drones grounded, mmm, anything over 20 miles per hour or so.
doctorremulac3, Dec 02 2013

       So, why not design this to reuse the existing cabling? Sure the robot will be much more complicated. It will probably need a couple long arms to allow swining past utility poles and jumping form the main wire to the service feed coming out of a transformer, but that would be easier than attempting to install a new wire on all the existing poles.
scad mientist, Dec 02 2013

       I think the largest problem is that in many areas, for many years, all new neighborhoods have been built with buried utilities.
scad mientist, Dec 02 2013

       // reuse the existing cabling? //   

       Existing telecoms cable isn't particularly tensile, and would fail under even moderate loads; the outer casing would deteriorate fast due to wear from any sort of gripper mechanism used to propel the robot.   

       Bare steel cable would be by far the best support.
8th of 7, Dec 02 2013

       The robot could leap from pole to pole.
pocmloc, Dec 02 2013

       Dr.,Dr. If you think the wires are gonna be there through a 200mph wind, think again. All the power poles went down here and we only had 186mph, a mere breeze. Hurricanes are tougher than utility poles.
cudgel, Dec 02 2013

       Point is, robo-wire-crawling pods will stay up as long as the utility lines stay up.   

       And during a two hundred mile per hour windstorm, I think the fact that the Kindle we ordered from Amazon might not be arriving as expected would be the least of our worries.   

       As 8th said, you'd have to put up new cables specifically made to have things roll over them. Existing power and telecommunications lines are built to do what they do, nothing more. Having robot pods roll over them would break them on a regular basis.
doctorremulac3, Dec 02 2013

       //lines are built to do what they do// and sometimes, what they do is providing catenary pigeon alignment. I think a robot of 30 to 50 squabs weight should be within design requirement for most spans, particularly if it scares away competitive loading.
lurch, Dec 02 2013

       Yea, not a lot of payload but for very light parcels, sure, why not?   

       However we do it, robots are the future, not "the children" like the Whitney Houston song says.
doctorremulac3, Dec 02 2013

       Maybe she meant "robot children".   

normzone, Dec 03 2013

       What's to stop people knocking the delivery pods off of the cable and stealing the contents?
Alterother, Dec 03 2013

       Onboard security cameras.   

       Plus, it's an awful lot of work when you might be knocking off a pod containing a Tickle Me Elmo doll, denture cream or adult diapers. (Sounds like supplies for a party I wouldn't want to attend) Assuming they don't have a cherry picker equipped truck, they need to climb a utility pole with wire cutters, cut the cable while on camera, pick up the pod, disable the GPS tracker and get away all for a pig in a poke. Cops will be on their way immediately as soon as the cable is cut so it better be something good. I see these things carrying groceries as much as durable goods so you might be risking life, limb and freedom for a bag of corn chips and a six-pack of Coke.   

       In bad neighborhoods a couple of bucks worth of barbed wire could add disincentive.   

       Good question though.
doctorremulac3, Dec 03 2013

       //        Onboard security cameras.    //   


       //        In bad neighborhoods //   

       So this is a cities-only thing? I was sorta thinking about my neck of the woods, which is more of a no neighborhood situation. Long lonely stretches of road with nothing but a moose or two for a mile in either direction. But no, by all means keep your automated delivery service for the city folks, I know they need it more than we do. Gods forbid they should have to walk a couple of blocks to get the things they need. I mean, I could completely stuff living out here in the wilderness but you just can't beat the convenience, knowhuttamean?
Alterother, Dec 03 2013

       I hear ya.   

       I think to be feasible this would have to be in high population density areas.
doctorremulac3, Dec 04 2013

              //        Onboard security cameras.    //      

       // high population density areas. //   

       Paintball gun or paint balloon.
Alterother, Dec 04 2013

       There ya go!   

       If I ever start "Zip-Pods LLC" I'll hire you to be in charge of security.
doctorremulac3, Dec 04 2013

       I've added a design improvement to the zip-pods concept. See link.   

       The last few feet to the house would be paid for by the customer and would run underground. The installation would be simple, similar to installing a lawn sprinkler or sewer pipe.   

       You'd buy something on line and have it in your delivery hatch in minutes.   

       I think it makes a lot more sense than the drone thing.   

       You wouldn't need all the networks to be connected immediately. You could have upload points where trucks pulled up to the package upload point and all the packages in their little zip-pods shoot out of the truck, into the system and onto their final destination. The truck would also pick up the empty pods from yesterday's deliveries. Eventually all the lines could be connected and the trucks could be eliminated.   

       By the way, the vacuum tube concept has some problems. Self motorized robo-pods getting their power from their rails are much easier to do. For one thing they can switch direction on their own to get to their destination and don't require a sealed tube.
doctorremulac3, Jun 16 2014


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