Pipedream’s Underground Delivery Network: A Glimpse into the Future of Last Mile Delivery

On the list of things we love are a few things: tunnels, transportation, technology, and innovation are all on that list. We get really excited when we hear about a project that combines existing and new innovative technology to transport goods via a tunnel. Ok, this is not between the Atlantic and Pacific coast of Northern Colombia, and it also doesn’t involve containers, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Delivery by Tunnel

Pipedream Labs, a US-based startup, has designed an autonomous delivery system for goods, using a system of tunnels and robots to deliver goods straight into homes through a citywide system. They see a future where tunnels connect local communities with distribution hubs. Citywide systems are a long-term goal. The short-term focus is on proving their solution works.

Pipedream has partnered with Wendy’s, a US-based fast food restaurant chain. The plan is to deliver orders to customers via a car-side pick-up portal called “Instant Pickup portals”, using autonomous robots that traverse these underground systems. This enables Wendy’s to deliver orders to nearby parking lots. The system has been designed with temperature-controlled delivery technology that should help maintain the appropriate temperature of the food while in transit, eliminating the need for customers to go inside or wait at a drive-thru to grab their food. Wendy’s can use it to expand their drive-through, improve delivery driver pickup accuracy, and create new digital ordering experiences.

Innovations in Delivery

The concept has attracted the attention of some high-profile individuals. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, reportedly visited Pipedream Labs to check out their home delivery prototype. While it hasn’t been confirmed whether Bezos is interested in investing in the system, his visit has led to speculation about a potential investment, given his track record of investing in big ideas and Amazon’s exploration of underground delivery in the past.

The evolution of this underground delivery network is still in its early stages, but its potential to revolutionize the last-mile industry is undeniable. As the trial progresses, retailers, e-tailers, and restaurants will closely monitor its impact on efficiency, cost, and overall customer experience.

Pipedream is designing portals that will enable drones, delivery robots, and autonomous cars to pick up food, groceries, or other items and delivery them to their final destination. Using this system could prevent congestion near stores or restaurants where many pick-ups currently happen.

Leveraging Existing Technologies

Pipedream leverages existing technologies and uses them in new ways. Their robots move through standard utility pipes, which means there are many ways in which they can be installed, and many construction companies can do this.

Leveraging existing technology and applying it in novel ways can yield numerous benefits across various sectors. It promotes innovation by creating new uses for existing technology, which can lead to breakthroughs in different fields. This kind of ‘outside-the-box’ thinking can result in unconventional solutions to longstanding problems or open up entirely new markets. At the same time, it can result in significant cost savings. Developing new technology from scratch can be expensive and time-consuming, whereas adapting existing technology can often be done more quickly and at a lower cost. A final benefit is that it can reduce risk since the technology has already been tested and proven to work in its initial application, which can give stakeholders confidence in its reliability when used in a new context.

We will be following the developments over at Pipedream Labs with interest.

Images courtesy of Pipedream Labs CTO Canon Reeves on Twitter

About the author:

Martijn Graat

Martijn is Zergratran’s Head of Content. He writes about the latest trends and innovations in logistics and anything related to Zergratran