[FoRK] The World Is Not Flat
sdw at lig.net
Wed Jan 20 14:08:33 PST 2010
Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:
> --- On Wed, 1/20/10, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> Aaron Burt wrote:
>>> I still believe there is a significant opportunity for someone with the
>>> right knowlege and contacts in the rail networks to offer fractional-
>>> container shipping to compete with LTL shipping at the slow/cheap end of
>>> the market.
>> What are probably needed are technologies to make loading
>> and offloading fast, automated, and nearly free energy
>> wise. For instance, imagine a train / trucking
>> transfer point where the train never stops or even slows
>> down much.
> I seen that stuff in the Westerns when I was a kid back in the 50's. Train would just blow through town and grab the sack of outbound mail off a pole and toss out the inbound one without slowing down at all. It never did catch on. Maybe it was a little ahead of its time? ;-)
Apparently it was used in the UK for a long time.
After a manual catch and drop start, it was in use from 1838 until
1971. I suppose that qualifies as catching on there.
An even more interesting example was the Skyhook:
> Modeled after the way British trains picked up mailbags from the side
> of the track, Fulton designed a method for airplanes to pick up people
> on the ground without ever landing.
> The Skyhook was in operation for until 1996 and even with its risky
> nature only one fatality was ever reported. However, with advances in
> helicopter ranges and the ability for mid air-refuels, the Skyhook
> became obsolete. Skyhook did have it's place in popular culture,
> appearing in several movies including the James bond flick,
> Thunderball, and the more recent film, The Dark Knight. Robert E.
> Fulton Jr. died in 2004 at the age of 95.
Or even from space:
> The first successful mission use of mid-air recovery was on 1960-08-19
> when a C-119 recovered film from the Corona mission code-named
> Discoverer 14. This was the first successful recovery of film from an
> orbiting satellite and the first aerial recovery of an object
> returning from Earth orbit.
There's some good material about it in the Hiller Aviation Museum in San
However, none of that is continuous motion based, which is what I was
suggesting: the platform should be moving at the same speed as the train
so that the cargo on the car is stationary to the load/unload dock and
mechanism. "Continuous motion" is a term of art in manufacturing
systems: everything keeps moving smoothly rather than start/stop stations.
More information about the FoRK