Essay on the possibility of using small driverless wheeled vehicles (“bogies”) for carrying small packages on larger, faster, vehicles and maybe along pavements to final destinations.
Purpose The purpose is to allow the collection of medium or small size packages of some urgency, transport them on high-speed transport, and then to distribute the packages to their final destinations.
The Bogie The bogie is about 60 cms wide because that is the distance between the back and the toes of a seated person, it is also the width of a person walking swinging his arms and socially necessary clearances. It must be at least 140 cms long because that is the width of two persons sitting side-by-side and could be up to 200 cms long, this is a less critical measurement. In pedestrian areas it is limited to 1 M/second and has obstacle detection so as not to hit people or other obstacles. Out of pedestrian areas it can go much faster.
The bogie has fasteners which fasten the bogie down to the floor of larger, faster, vehicles when those vehicles get moving. Fastening down connects seats to lighting and ventilation controls and connects cargo-carrying bogies to power supply for heating or cooling and battery recharging.
Bogies are of two main types, some carry seats, others cargo. Some cargo-carriers may have quite sophisticated machinery for self-loading and unloading, others may be simply empty boxes, loaded and unloaded by hand or other machinery.
The Seat The seats of the high-speed trunk transport are built as bogies but with seats instead of cargo-space. At times of slack traffic, the seats are motored out and bogies motored in.
Navigation of seats and bogies In newly equipped areas, seats and bogies find their way by following buried wires. In long-established areas such as city pavements, they follow lines of pins driven between the paving slabs. They know their position from markers, which may also be fitted into trains. This is well-established technology.
Uses of the bogies/seats
Use 1 The bogies going on trains and trams. At terminals (preferably), or at intermediate points where suitable, it may be decided that there are not enough passengers to warrant keeping a carriage only for passengers, so, under supervision, the seats are motored out through the carriage doors and away to storage or cleaning and repair. Since the seats are fitted with obstacle detection equipment, this might be done without supervision, but supervised would be better.
Meanwhile cargo-carrying bogies are motored along the platform well back from the edge to the places where the doors are expected to open. Nowadays trains can stop within 60 cms or better of their expected places. The bogie’s steering arms are turned to face their wheels sideways and the front and back wheels are turned are in opposite directions so as to turn the bogie a right angle, to face towards the train. All the bogies to be loaded this time are turned the same way, when the first one is driven forward onto the train, the others are motored sideways to take its place. The steering arms of the bogie going onto the train are turned again and the bogie is motored forward into the train.
In the following I assume that cargo-carrying bogies are put into the same places that the seat-carrying bogies had left, but other arrangements are possible and may be necessary.
At the right row inside the train, the steering arms are turned again so that it may be motored forward to its place. There it is fastened down and plugged into power supply for heating or cooling cargoes that need that and for recharging the bogie’s batteries.
When bogies are loaded at a terminus, they will be loaded in “first in, first out” order. As the journey goes along some newcomers will need to be off at the next stop, others will need to stay further, so by motoring the bogies between rows in the fashion of sliding square puzzles, the bogies that need to be off at the next stop can be correctly positioned.
Use 2 Bogies are really a form of the internal transport vehicles widely used in factories and warehouses and I will say no more.
Use 3 It is worthwhile exploring the possibility of using bogies for delivery to final destinations, but that is going off-topic and I will say no more.