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Underground tube for takeaway/grocery delivery via containers (no delivery person)

Image credit: Photo by Vladimir Kramer on Unsplash

Goran Radanovic
Goran Radanovic Jan 12, 2022
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Receive your takeaway or grocery delivery via an underground tube that leads to a big mailbox-like container in front of your house.
The delivery industry is huge, but it could be even more efficient, convenient and safer, not to mention reduce traffic. Imagine receiving takeaways/groceries to your house even when you're not there.
People who don't want to interact with the delivery person because they're concerned about safety or want to protect their identity would benefit from this concept.
This would be perfect for people living in rural areas who want to enjoy the food of their favourite restaurant or don't want to drive for kilometres to buy groceries.
This idea, if it became prevalent, would change the model of the businesses involved. Their main operation would be back of house (sending deliveries), and they would reduce the employees working front of house.
How it works
Tubes are fitted across neighbourhoods, and interested residents would subscribe to a big mailbox in front of their house, like the ones you see in old movies.
A consumer places an order with an app and pays. The business loads the items into a container (think medical totes) and directs the container to the address by inputting a code on the panel. The distribution point would be the business's back of house, a tube in the wall that leads underground.
The container reaches the mailbox and empties the content before automatically returning to the sender. The app notifies the customer of the delivery.
The resident's mailbox has a heating function to keep takeaways warm.
Branching out
This could eventually lead to the delivery of all packages.
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Creative contributions

A few use case scenarios

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Jan 12, 2022
If building such a network wasn't prohibitively expensive I can imagine the idea being feasible in rural areas where the digging wouldn't mess too much with the existing infrastructure.
A few use case scenarios:
  • people in a village interconnect their houses (mostly relatives) for a private delivery system
  • a restaurant offers nearby people a subscription food delivery service. They commit to receiving X meals per month for at least Y months, which covers the cost of pipeline construction from the restaurant to their house
  • same as above, but all people in the community are senior citizens. the pipeline is used to deliver food, meds, whatever they need from the grocery store
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Goran Radanovic
Goran Radanovic3 years ago
The rural folks would be one of the beneficiaries of this network, but not the primary target. Construction would be done there only after they've made money from the urban areas, which would be the primary target.
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The technology behind it?

jnikola Jan 13, 2022
The idea is awesome and reminds me of the bank systems for employee-safe communication, exchange of important documents and money. Once I visited a bank and wanted to withdraw my whole salary. The lady used a vacuum-tube system for communication with the safe, which was below that room.
That's one way how it could be done. Vacuum systems are fast and efficient but are not easily controllable and one damage can stop the whole system from working. Therefore, I would suggest vacuum tubes for long segments between the crosspoints, but not for the whole system. The crosspoints should have mechanical switches (like metros) that are controlled by an AI. The problem would be these transitions between two different systems which would leave many weak points uncleared. Also, another problem is the consumption of power of building, maintenance, and delivery, which would probably be high and lift the prices of delivery.
How did you imagine this system to work?
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Darryl Koh Yuan Jie
Darryl Koh Yuan Jie3 years ago
Currently, there are actually some prototypes I found online, not sure how feasible it is however. Link here! That being said, I would argue that this idea might not be feasible in rural areas, especially poor rural areas as I would imagine the money that goes into constructing this system might be put in better use such as ensuring they have their basic necessities met(water, electricity etc). It does not make sense to me to implement such a system there when they do not have such requirements met.
Vacuum systems or Pneumatic tube from my understanding, is great for smaller items(cash etc) like what J.Nikola mentioned, but it is probably too weak for larger and heavier items. A larger chamber has to be created in order to create the same power to send the items on its way. I think a conveyor belt system of sorts would probably be the best way forward for now. It could be something like this, where it is implemented alongside highways, therefore causing less of a hindarance to the current infrastructure. In the long run, if successful, such tunnels might even be able to go across oceans(similar to internet cables) and reduce the delivery distance for overseas packages.
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jnikola3 years ago
Darryl Koh Yuan Jie The solutions from the links are crazy! They are exactly what this idea is about and could help us think of the best solution, based on the weak points of the linked solutions.
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Goran Radanovic
Goran Radanovic3 years ago
That's the part I haven't figured out. I was hoping contributors would have valid suggestions. Your suggestion is a great start and something we can build on.
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