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Publication numberUS1438162 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 5, 1922
Filing dateDec 21, 1920
Priority dateDec 21, 1920
Publication numberUS 1438162 A, US 1438162A, US-A-1438162, US1438162 A, US1438162A
InventorsHoffman John I
Original AssigneeHoffman John I
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Automatic delivery system
US 1438162 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)




Patented Dec. 5,1922.




Patented Dec. 5,1922.




1,438, 1 62, Patented Dec. 5, 1922',


Wlrmsss Patented Dec. 5, 1922.



Application filed December 21, 1920. Serial No. 432,254.

To all whomz't may concern:

Be it known that 1, JOHN T. HOFFMAN, a citizen of the United States, and residing in the city of Pittsbur h, in the county of All gheny and State oI Pennsylvania, have invented or discovered new, useful, and Improved Automatic Delivery Systems, of which the following is a specification.

My invention consists in new and improved apparatus for the transportation, delivery and collection'ol packages and commodities, including mail matter such as first and other classes of mail, and parcel post.

The rapid increase in the use oi"? the parcel post, especially by tradesmen in serving customers at a distance, and by farmers and the like in selling foot stufis at retail to the consumers, has rendered the present methods of delivery, by animal-drawn and motor vehicles, entirely inadequate, and the problem is becoming more serious as the parcel post increases in popularity.

The object which I have in View is the provision of an improved system of transportation, including automatic delivery and collection. Another object is the saving of time and expense of such service, and the multiplication of the capacity of the same.

With these and other objects in view, I have invented a new and improved automatic transportation, delivery and collection system which is of the following general character.

I provide an aerial railway along which one or more carsare driven, the cars being loaded at the station or terminus and started out on a continuous travel until the predetermined route has been traversed, automatic means being provided whereby at various points along the route the proper matter is discharged and waiting matter collected; so that when a car has completed its travel, its original load has been properly distributed and the matter collected en along the railway, preferably by means of electric motors mounted on the'cars and supplied with current; by conductors strung j along the railway. If desired the'current may be supplied from storage batteries carried by thecars, or internal combustion engines or stored power, such as compressedair motors may be used. The cars may be drawn by means of a moving cable, but I proper compartmentare discharged when any lndividual delivery point is being.

passed. I also provide means whereby the bottom of the compartment is automatically closed after the corresponding point is passed. a 1

9 I also provide,automaticmeans whereby thecar picks up matter to be collected as it passes the various points'on the line, said collection points being preferably the same as thedelivery points.

delivery I show novelmform of track cable sus- I pension, and also in car suspension wheel "mech anism.

Other novel features of construction and arrangement of parts will appear from the following description. 4 i

In the accompanying drawings, which however are merely. intended to illustrate a practical embodimentof the principles of my invention without limiting the scope of the latter to the construction shown, Fig l is a side elevation of a car mounted on the aerial railway; Fig. 2 is a plan view of the car; Fig. '3 is a sectional view of the same taken along the line III-J11 in Fig. 1. the car being shown passing through one of the track frames, such as are provided at the I various delivery points on the railway; Fig. 4 is an enlarged detail in section along the line IVTV in Fig. 2, showing the method of suspending the car .from the cables; Fig. 7

is a plan view showing a delivery point on the railway, the receiving hopper being shown; Fig. 6 is a side elevation of the same; Fig. 7 is a side elevation of the railway showing means for closing the hop bottom of a con'ipartment after a delivery; 8 is a detail showing the collection shelf upon which matter to be collected is placed to be automatically taken up by the car; Fig. 9 is a side view of the car showing the loading door, and Fig. is an enlarged perspective oi": the form of container which I provided in which the matter, to be either delivered or collected, is placed.

The following is a detailed description ot the drawings.

A represents the railway tracks, shown as cables owing to their less original cost, and on account of convenience of erection and maintenance; although rails may be substituted.

Said cables are strung at a proper height from the ground to provide head room, and

may be supported by poles or towers. lln the drawings 1 show said cables supported in place from gallows beams 1 secured to posts B, said beams being provided with :1 depending pipe arm 2 having a T coupler at its lower end into which are screwed the short pipe sections 3 into the outer end of which latter are inserted, and secured as by crimping the end of the pipes, the lateral stems 4 of the sleeves 5 through which the cables A extend. The cables are thus supported at the proper intervals at the proper spaced relation- C represents one of the cars provided near each end with upwardly extending posts 6 having angular bracket portions 7 whose upper ends are provided with vertically slotted, transverse openings 8 in which are mounted the bearing boxes 9 swiveled in place by means 01 screws 10 engaging.

threaded holes in the bracket and having their tapered. ends engaging sockets in the boxes 9. 11 represents the axles journaled in said boxes and having their inner ends provided with grooved wheels 12 which run on the cables A and thus support the car. The rear axles 11 are provided with pulleys 13 which are operativelv connected by the belts 14 with pulleys 15 on jack shaft 16 journaled transversely of the car in bean ings 17. The shaft 16 is provided with a third pulley 18 which is connected by a belt 19 with a pulley 20 on the shaft of an electric motor, or other source of power, D mounted on top of the car. In the em bodiment of the invention shown in the drawings, the motor is fed by a two wire system whose twin conductors ll are strung along the under side of the gallows beams Said wires are engaged from below by the trolley wheels 21, carried on trailing swiveled spring arms 22, and connected respectively to the positive and negative sides of the motor D.

The posts 6 are provided with vertical sockets 23 in which are stepped the reduced stems 2a of the yoke members 25 in which are journaled the axles of the grooved compression wheels 26 which engage the cables A from beneath immediately below the wheels 12. Springs 27 are coiled about the stems 24: in the sockets 23, thereby spring pressing the wheels 26 against said cables to prevent the wheels 1 from jumping therefrom, and also providing traction for the wheels 12. The wheels 26 are depressed so as to enable the wheels 12 to run over the sleeves 5 without difiiculty, the ends 0% said sleeves being preterabl tapered down to the surface of cable to prevent jarring or jumping as the wheels engage or leave the sleeves.

The cars C are preferably elongated, rectangular metal boxes divided transversely by the vertical partitions 27 to :torm a plu rality 0t compartments equal in num' er to the delivery points on the railway at which the car is intended to deliver matter. The

bottoms of said compartments are termedby hinges. doors 28 which drop down, when released, to discharge the contents of the compartments.

Said doors are held in their horizontal positions, as shown in F 1, by means of spring latches 29 whose angular heads normally extend under the lower edge of the car and support the doors 28 "from beneath. Said latches are spring pressed, as at 30. in their engaging position, but any one of the doors may be released by the retraction of its latch, as shown in 3 through inwardly exerted pressure on the upper end of the latch.

At each delivery point on the line the railway is provided with an open frame through which the car passes. Thus in Figs. 3 and 5, T have shown said frame composed of the gallows beams 1 which are inpairs, one attached to each "face of the post B. Below the same are a pair of similar horizontal beams 31; and the outer ends oi the beams 1 and 31 are connected by a vertical post 81 thus forming an open frame of suilicient internal dimensions to permit the free passage or the car (1. To properly aline the car in passing through one of the frames, l: prefer to provide opposed, horizontal guide rails 32, see Figs. 3 and supported from the posts B and 31 bybrackets and having outwardly curved or flared ends so that the car will pass between said rails be prevented from material side swing while passing the delivery point.

llach delivery point is provided with a door opening member comprising a horizontally supported plate 34;, see Figs. 3 and 5, having its front end bevelled, which plate 1,438,162 I I l "is intended to engage the upper end of the proper latch 29, and force the same 1n wardly to release the corresponding door; so that the latter drops and allows the contents of its compartment to fall down into the hopper F which is supported from the posts Band 31 below and transversely of the trackway. The lower end of said hopper is connected by the chute 35 with a mail box or other container, not shown, on or near the ground and in easy reach.

The upper ends of the latches 29 are at different levels, as shown in Fig. 1, and the difierent door opening members 34 are also at varying levels to engage the proper latch, so that as the car passes a given delivery point, the'door of the proper compartment is released but the other compartments are not disturbed.

The next post B beyond each delivery point is provided, as shown in Fig. 7 with a door closing plate 35 mounted. on said post and having an inclined forward portion 35 so as the car passes over said plate the open door is first raised and then snapped closed over the bevelled head of its latch.

Thus as the car reaches a delivery point, the door of the proper compartment is an tomatica-lly opened and the contents of the compartment discharged into the waiting hopper, and as the car passesthe next post B, the door is automatically closed. Thus, as, in turn, the delivery points are passed the contents of the proper compartments are discharged.

I also provide means whereby matter is automatically collected en route.

The same are shown as, of the following construction. I

The car is provided, preferably at the front with a bin or compartment 36, and at the rear thereof the car is provided with a pair of vertical standards 37, to which the trolley arms may be connected by means of resilient guys 38. The upper ends of the standards 37 are provided with inwardly extending, horizontal arms or sweeps 39 which, as the car travels pass over the top surfaces of the collection shelves 4.0 at various points on the line and sweep the contents of said shelves into the bin 36.

A collection shelfO is preferably provided at each delivery point on the line and is adapted to be lowered to permit matter to be placed therein and then to be raised into the path of the sweeps prior to the passage of the car.

I have shown the shelves each attached to the lower horizontal arm of a U-shape bracket 41 whose upper horizontal arm is attached to a pair of ropes 42 running over sheaves 43 journaled on a shaft 4.4 horizontally mounted on the gallows 1. Said ropes are led rearwardly over a second pair of sheaves "padlock 50 are provided.

45 on a shaft 46 mounted on the rearward down to the ground.

i7 is a dependingstop tolimit the upward y 1 movement of theshelf 40 so as to properly ed is placed; said boxes being of proper size tofit loosely 1n the compartments of the'car.

extension of one of the beams 1, a'nd thence Thus, when a box is delivered at a point 7 on the line, the recipient opens the box and removes the contents; if there is matter to be collected by the next car passing, he places the same in the box.

' The shelf 40 is thenlowered; the box is placed thereon, and the shelf is again raised lnto positlon.

If desired the latches may be alternated; on either side of the car, thus having onehalf of the latches onone side and one-half- 'onthe other side ofthe car. In like manner half of the stationary latch engaging plates would be on one side of the track and the other half on the other, side of the track.

However by placing all of the latches on 'pne side of the car, as shown in the drawings, I may provide a hinged door l8 1n the wall of the other side of thec'ar whereby access may be had to all of the compartments to load the same. The door may be held closed as by the catches 4:9 and a hasp and i It is evident that a car may be loaded at the starting point, such as the central post oflice, and the contents of the several co,m

partments will be automatically delivered at theproper points, and the matter waiting on the collection shelves picked up and carried to the end of the line. By installing a belt line, on each complete trip deliveries and collections'may be made along the route, the f car being entirely, unaccompanied and automatic in its action,

By making thecar of relatively greatheight and alternating the latches on either side of the car a large number of compartments may he provided, and consequently the number of delivery points served by a car may be greatly increased.-

If desired ordinary mail bags may be used instead of containers or boxes, the same being delivered and collected at central points for a number of patrons.

It is evident from the foregoing that the cost of collecting and delivering mail may be greatly reduced, as the rural mail earriers and their vehicles are not necessary.

Although, for the sake of clearness, I

have minutely described the'embodiment of the principles of my invention shown in the drawings, I do not wish to limit-myself thereby, but claim broadly i 1. In combination with a traveling car provided --,ith compartments, a drop all for each of said compartments for the discharge of their conten' means for nor- 1 va-Mcin their closed 1V3 5 retention of said contents,

he Wells of said compartautomaticelly dropped at V 'ermined points along the p Li. 7' er, 2 l means for theantoi0 inatie closing of calls after the discharge of the contents of ments.

2, ln delivery ystem of the character desert I action with a moving i the same, means or holding said bottom said compartcar and adapted c l nrst named zneans, the car i, *0 case said st named means to "in bottom, 1 means in advance :ond nain leans in the direction of the a: r and adapted to en )ottor. to reclose the same,

livery sys em. of the character h a moving car, of drop botton. seid car, a latch adapted to hold said bottom in its closed position, means located along the path of 0 w x 1 i when, inenns SuittlOnGO. ad

.i '1 1 Led to engage said bottom to ieclose,

drop bottom, and means whereby said bottom automatically restored to its closed 111 alter the hespassed said enineinber.

i a system of the character described,

sl" having a fiat upper surface to permit sweep passing foverthe same as the car travels as the shelf, seid matter being deposited from said shelf into said compartment hj-s' sweep means.

6, in system of the character described,

combination with a moving car prooded with a receiving, compartment, of rhea carried by said car, and a Shelf tilted long the path of: said car upon jch Letter to be collected is placed, said iii l1 evi' i a flat upper surface to permit veep passing: over the same as the car let the shelf, said matter being desaid shelf into said compartswep means, and said shelf to he moved into and out said sweep means. J: 7 "1 0 J4 oi the character described, "-oination with moving car pro- 2 receiving space, of sweep 1 ed by said car, a shelf mounted along the path said car and adapted to contain the tter to be collected by said shei;

" the sweep passing over the same elevating seid shelf into the path of i sweep means whereby the latter desaid matter in said receiving space e car passes.

ned at Pittsburgh, Pa", this th day December, 1920.

dglll I. HUFFMAN.

2 the ca; travels past the shelf, and meanshayinga fiat upper surface

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6447236Mar 14, 2000Sep 10, 2002Abb Automation, Inc.Docking station
US6579053Mar 9, 2000Jun 17, 2003Abb Flexible Automation, Inc.Robotic containerization and palletizing system
US6866471Feb 12, 2003Mar 15, 2005Abb Flexible Automation, Inc.Method of using a robotic containerization and palletizing system
U.S. Classification414/265
International ClassificationB61L23/00
Cooperative ClassificationB61L23/005
European ClassificationB61L23/00A1