Amazon Files Patent for Underground Delivery Network

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Fri. January 13th, 2017 - by Robert Schaulis

SEATTLE, WA – Amazon’s discontentedness with conventional transport is becoming more and more apparent.

Fresh off a number of recently-discovered aerial drone patents—including plans for a “mega-drone” and system of drone-launching “airships”—the company filed a patent at the end of November 2016 for a “dedicated network delivery system.” The 33-page filing describes a subterranean system of conveyor belts and vacuum tubes used to transport packages, according to tech news source Geek Wire—who unearthed the patent last week.

According to Geek Wire, the system could connect rail stations, airports, fulfillment centers, locker storage systems, and customers in ways that “avoid congestion experienced by traditional transportation networks.”

Amazon Illustration (Source: USPTO)

The network’s purported benefits include increased efficiency and reliability, less traffic, and fewer delivery vehicles needed.

Though ambitious, this isn’t the first attempt at an underground delivery system. In fact, the Paris Pneumatique, or “pneu” as it was known colloquially, was established in the late-19th century and ran for 117 years before shutting down in 1984.

In more recent history, Elon Musk, billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, developed a similar “Hyperloop” concept that called for a network of tubes through which magnetically-levitating pods would levitate at near-supersonic speeds.

Elon Musk, billionaire CEO, SpaceX and Tesla

Musk developed the Hyperloop concept more than three years ago, but as recently as last January, the billionaire CEO was still expressing his interest in the project: “It’s a really simple and obvious idea and I wish more people would do it: build more tunnels,” Musk said, according to news source Newsweek. “Tunnels are great. It’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not that hard… you could have tunnels at all different levels—you could probably have 30 layers of tunnels and completely fix the congestion problem in high-density cities. So I strongly recommend tunnels.”

In fact, less than a month ago, in December of 2016, Musk tweeted his frustration with over-ground traffic.

Will the retailers patent filing be granted and grow to fruition? Could the future of fresh produce logistics involve lightning-fast underground transport? Check in with AndNowUKnow for updates.