A robot highway is a roadway or tunnel built for automated freight and deliveries. One of the obstacles in closing and repurposing highways with sustainable infrastructure such as high-speed rail, cycle highways and superblocks is that roads are also used for shipping, deliveries and emergency services. Robot highways can potentially fullfill the shipping and delivery needs of a city in a fraction of the space with zero emissions and little noise pollution.
ScaleRobot vehicles need not be at human scale and could be just big enough to carry a single package. Most packages for home delivery are less than 1 meter, or 3.2 feet, wide. A robot highway built to this size could potentially service most deliveries to homes and small businesses.Being separated from people, robots highways could be high speed and ultra efficient using algorithms to optimize roadway use.
Last MileA robot highway could be designed to have a thick trunk that goes through the heart of a city. Smaller roadways could bring deliveries within the last mile of the entire city. In order to reduce land usage, robots could use existing roads or pedestrian walkways for the last mile. Robots traveling in pedestrian areas could travel slowly and be designed to be polite to humans.
|Definition||A roadway or tunnel built for automated freight and deliveries.|
|Alternatives ||City-wide conveyor belts or other forms of non-robotic automation.|
|Value||Potential to use far less space than current road infrastructure.Regular roads can be reclaimed to build features such as high speed rail, greenways and cycle highways.Efficient and inexpensive delivery may represent a revolution for industries such as ecommerce.Small robots that are just large enough to carry a single package may be an energy efficient alternative to delivery trucks that may weight thousands of kilograms.Ground robots confined to highways may be quiet and energy efficient as compared to alternatives such as drone delivery.|
|Notes||A city that has completely converted to public transportation may retain wide walkways that can be used by emergency services. Such throughways might also be booked for transporting large items such as construction equipment, house moving and commercial equipment.|
|Related Concepts||RoboticsUrban DesignSustainabilitySuperblocksHigh Speed Rail|
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