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US Logistics firm Pipedream has initiated the world's first underground autonomous robot delivery system.

The initiative was launched in the Peachtree Corners, which is billed to be one of the United States' first smart cities powered by real-world connected infrastructure and 5G. The project was done in association with Curiosity Labs in the state of Georgia.

The underground logistics solution aims to eliminate emissions and congestion issues that are often the hallmark of current delivery infrastructure. Pipedream claims that its system will "make delivery of more than 95 pecent of consumer products extremely low-cost, emission-less, and congestion-less forever through our autonomous, underground delivery system," said the firm's website.

Futuristic concept

Pipedream's system consists of totes that carry the payload. These are designed to accommodate over 95 percent of the goods currently ordered for both delivery and pickup. A portal, an above-ground interface equipped with temperature control, accommodates orders weighing up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms), providing ample space for weekly groceries or substantial family meals.

Complementing this, its autonomous electric robot boasts speeds exceeding 40 mph (64 km/h), ensuring quick and efficient deliveries. Beneath the surface, the underground infrastructure utilizes off-the-shelf pipes to form a conduit for its rail network, featuring junctions designed for easy 90-degree turns, enhancing the agility and navigational capabilities of its robots, according to the Pipedream website.

“By bringing the delivery system underground and directly to the customer, Pipedream is showcasing the future of logistics technology that will not only bring added convenience to our residents and businesses but also reduce traffic, noise, and emissions from delivery vehicles on our roads," said Brandon Branham, Assistant City Manager and CTO of Peachtree Corners, in a statement.

The firm's expansive installation in Peachtree Corners spans nearly 1 mile (1.6 km), connecting a bustling shopping center to the core of Curiosity Lab's 25,000 sq. ft. (2,322.5 sq. m) smart city innovation center. Within this innovative setup, members of Curiosity Lab gain the convenience of ordering food from a selection of restaurants and choosing on-demand convenience items. This service operates seamlessly from Monday to Friday, specifically during peak lunch hours, according to a statement.

Upon placing an order, Pipedream's mobile robots navigate the tunnel, autonomously transporting a variety of items such as food, packages, groceries, and household goods. This modern-day solution streamlines delivery processes, offering a futuristic and efficient experience for customers.

Increased sustainability

Establishing a sustainable, car-free community? Residents and businesses requiring quick delivery of goods directly to their homes, offices, stores, and restaurants can find an ideal solution in the Pipedream system. If successful, the firm claims that this solution not only minimizes emissions and congestion to zero but also involves revenue sharing with the city. In essence, Pipedream aims to definitively resolve the challenges associated with last-mile logistics.

The firm's vision for 2030 is to attain hyper logistics, a revolutionary state in the logistics landscape. Hyperlogistics entails the reliable delivery of items in under 10 minutes, costing less than $1, seamless return processes, revenue sharing with the city, and the reduction of emissions and congestion to zero. Pipedream is poised to facilitate a shift toward a more circular economy, making deliveries not only greener but also more affordable and widely accessible, claims the firm.

As the United States anticipates dedicating 40 percent of its traffic to delivery by 2030, the company's goal is to redirect this traffic underground through innovative solutions. Pipedream's instant pickup system "allows restaurants, grocery stores, and other retail to increase capacity and revenue by creating unlimited automated pickup and drive-thru stations," said the firm's website.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Jijo Malayil

Quelle/Source: Interesting Engineering, 30.12.2023

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