While other businesses are racing to develop aerial "drone shipping", a UK company is going in the other direction with a delivery network that harnesses magnetic levitation technology to propel goods in capsules through underground pipes.Â
The aptly named Mole Solutions has been awarded funding by the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Cambridge-based company is now aiming to build a small-scale prototype in the east Midlands city of Northampton.Â
During the trial, Mole Solutions will work with Transport Systems Catapult, an innovation centre for intelligent mobility, as well as construction and engineering firms.
The capsule and pipeline (Mole Solutions)
The system is powered by electricity, and uses the same maglev principles that have been developed for high-speed rail.Â
Among the advantage of delivering parcels by means of underground pipes are that they are unaffected by external factors, such as traffic congestion and weather conditions. According to Mole Solutions, the piplines would have operating costs up to 20% cheaper than road networks and would be 25% cheaper to build.
Research into underground pipelines is taking place in the Netherlands, Germany, China and America, and the system has already been tested in the Cambridgeshire village of Alconbury.Â
Watch a demonstration here.