The conduit (or tunnel or pipeline) configuration and its design is dependant on the supply chain application and of course the geophysical characteristics of the location. It is commonly perceived that sub surface enclosures are expensive but with modern and emerging techniques this is not neccessarily the case.
Four main construction techniques are:
- Modular construction 'click and go' track interconnection
- Factory built for high quality
- Software controlled directional switching
- In built fail safe braking and propulsion modules
The capsule configuration and its design and construction is dependant on the supply chain application. Transportation of shipping containers require a robust structure, urban transportation of pallets require fast intermodal interfaces and warehouse totebox applications need lightweight structures
However all applications have common design principals.
-No main onboard drive, primary propulsion by magnetic wave from track mounted Linear Induction Motors.
- Low wheel friction, no rail wear.
- Low aerodynamic drag
-Very few moving parts giving high reliability and low maintenance.
- Autonomous as no driver!
The primary propulsion system is based on Linear Induction Motors (LIM) that are embedded at appropriate intervals in the conduit floor to form a SMART guideway. A key feature of the propulsion system is the maintainance of the air gap between the LIM and the base of the capsule. This is achieved by retaining the precise geometry between capsule and track at all times.
Linked to active and passive sensors the ULS control system positions each capsule along the route and maintains speed, headway and steering as appropriate.
The ULS control system interfaces with higher level control systems, such as in the Port application the NAVIS Terminal Operating System.
The speed of operation of a ULS Intermodal system is the main driver that determines capacity and so efficiency. Again the intermodal system will be different for each supply chain application.
In the Port application the use of high speed gantry cranes with smart cradles is currently favoured.
For Urban applications the use of robotics and fast roll on, roll off systems for pallets, roll cages and similar are appropriate.
For Bulk applications traditional mining techniques that simply load from overhead hoppers and unload by rolling over the capsule and tipping out contents are adequate.