The invention relates to a device for receiving and storing postal and delivery consignments according to the type specified in the preamble of claim 1 and a method for using the device.
In recent years, the spread and acceptance of the Internet has been steadily increasing. With a rapidly growing number of manufacturers and distributors selling goods through this medium, service providers have also multiplied, often on the Internet, allowing them to compare offers, often free of charge and almost in real time. In view of considerable price differences, a strong simplification of the order processes and the significantly shorter delivery times due to the high competitive pressure, the volume of online trade has increased immensely.
As a result, the number of parcel shipments sent daily, especially in the industrialized nations, has increased so much that personal delivery to largely fixed times, as in the case of letter mail, is often not possible. However, because of their size and the risk of theft, parcels often have to be taken back if the recipient is not found. However, renewed delivery attempts then place an additional burden on the contracted parcel service, both organizationally and financially.
Furthermore, the low flexibility of traditional manual delivery of parcels and parcels, both temporally and locally, stands in stark contrast to the enormous flexibility in ordering. Because orders can be made virtually anywhere at any time thanks to Internet-enabled mobile devices.
The largest German parcel service has been taking this development into account since 2001 by setting up so-called packing stations. These are unmanned parcel stations, where each consignment is assigned a lockable compartment (compartment system) or where the consignments are stored in magazines (rotation system). The customer must register once and then receive access data for the use of the services. The customer is not set to a specific packing station, but can choose a packing station on a case-by-case basis and specify it as the delivery address. When a shipment has been shipped, the customer will be notified of exactly where the shipment was deposited. This is usually done by an SMS, in which a transaction number (mTAN) is included, which serves as proof of the authorization to pick up the shipment.
It is also possible for a registered customer to send parcels and parcels via these parcel stations. Payment can be made online or directly at the machine.
Although a significant increase in flexibility has already been achieved by this type of parcel stations, since the customer can pick up the consignment intended for him at any time in a location determined by him beforehand, this system also has disadvantages. On the one hand, the user has to commit to a delivery address earlier than is technically necessary, namely when placing his order. On the other hand arises again additional effort if the parcel delivery noticed until the delivery, that the selected parcel station is busy or defective or that the package is not suitable for local storage, for example, due to its size. Furthermore, the packing stations described are provided only for services of a group of companies and are not available to competitors. Finally, the storage of parcels in parcel stations significantly increases the rate of successful deliveries. Transporting the shipment from shipment to delivery, however, is far less automated than is desirable and technically feasible.
The object of the present invention is to provide, while avoiding the disadvantages mentioned, a device for accepting and storing mail and delivery consignments and a method for using the device, the efficient, largely automated delivery and possibly storage of packages, parcels and the like with minimal human labor input.
This object is achieved by the characterizing features of claim 1 in conjunction with its generic features.
The invention is based on the finding that it is possible to design the device so that it can accept and safely store parcels, smaller parcels and the like without manual operation by a human being, in particular for shorter distances instead of the conventional transport routes, ie primarily road and rail, the airway is selected and unmanned aerial vehicles, in particular so-called quadrocopter, are used, which communicate with the device.
According to the invention, the device for receiving and storing postal and delivery consignments, hereinafter referred to as 'shipments' denotes a storage container with a closable and lockable opening for insertion and Storing consignments, being provided as a closure element, a flap, a door, a roller shutter or the like. It also has an input device for identifying a user and verifying the access authorization of the user, a mechanism for opening and closing the storage container and a central control unit which is connected to the mechanism for opening and closing the storage container and the input device and the mechanism to open and close the storage container according to the data input via the input device. Preferably, a wireless communication means connected to the control unit is provided for communicating with an unmanned aerial vehicle used to transport transmissions and having at least one receiver receiving data from a transmitter of an unmanned aerial vehicle transmitted to the control unit. Thus, the device can be controlled by the unmanned aerial vehicle exactly so that the storage container is opened shortly before the arrival of the aircraft for depositing the shipment and immediately closed again after the deposit of the shipment. On the one hand, this is done automatically or at least remotely controlled and thus without the presence of a human being required. On the other hand, the fact that the storage container is only opened for a short period of time to deposit the shipment, the shipment protected from environmental influences, damage and theft.
The choice of unmanned aerial vehicles as a means of transport also high flexibility in determining the delivery address is achieved. Because it causes no or only a very small additional organizational and financial burden on the commissioned parcel service when the unmanned aircraft, the delivery address is entered only at departure or even after departure.
In an advantageous embodiment, at least one electromagnetic, electromechanical or hydraulic locking mechanism is provided for locking the closure element, which is controlled by the control unit. This considerably increases theft security.
According to one aspect of the invention, the mechanism for opening and closing the storage container comprises a motor. Thus, the opening and closing can be controlled more accurately and the closure element, for example, against a certain resistance from the outside, such as wind or snow, are opened more easily.
It is advantageous if the wireless communication means comprises a transmitter for transmitting data provided by the control unit to the aircraft. This allows a feedback from the device to the aircraft, especially with regard to any occupancy of the storage container by a previously deposited consignment or a defect.
In an alternative embodiment, the control unit can be connected to a control center and / or a mobile communication means, such as a mobile telephone, tablet, etc., in particular via the Internet or similar communication networks. Thus, in addition to the already described communication between the device and the aircraft advance communication between the device and the sender is possible by the example of the status of the storage container can be checked. In case of problems, the delivery can be postponed or transferred to another destination. Furthermore, communication between the device and the user is conceivable.
In order to prevent in the closed state in particular the entry of moisture and dirt into the storage container, it is advantageous if sealing means are provided on the closure means and / or on the opening.
Furthermore, it is advantageous that the storage container is provided with an insulation, which counteracts high fluctuations in the outside temperature and keeps the temperature in the storage container constant. This improves the safety of storage for more sensitive consignments and also expands the possibility that even perishables or prepared food can be stored in the storage container for a period of time. For this purpose, for example, separate compartments may be provided in the storage container, which are designed to be heated or cooled.
In a further advantageous embodiment, at least one rotatably arranged camera is provided, which is directed to the storage container and which is connected to the control unit. This is primarily to protect against theft and willful damage. With further measures, such as the installation of an alarm system, this protection can be improved. Furthermore, the camera can also be used to monitor the landing and take-off of drones.
According to one aspect of the invention, sensors connected to the control unit are provided for monitoring the storage container and its surroundings, in particular sensors for measuring the temperature, for measuring the wind speed and for detecting vibrations. Various measures can be taken on the basis of data which the sensors transmit to the control unit become. Extreme vibrations, for example, indicate an unauthorized access attempt, whereupon an alarm can be triggered. Very strong wind could present a risk for safe depositing of the shipment by an aircraft, and as a precaution the device could, for example, send a request for later delivery.
In an advantageous development of the invention, a landing site for an unmanned aerial vehicle is provided on or at the device. Thus, the return or onward flight of the aircraft may be postponed if necessary, or the aircraft may remain in the event of a defect until collection on the device. Preferably, the landing site is coverable or otherwise protected against pollution, snow and ice etc.
It is favorable if the landing field is retractable and retractable with respect to the storage container, as this results in normal operation of the device, ie. H. if the landing field is not used, space is saved.
According to a further aspect of the invention, an energy source is provided, via which the unmanned aerial vehicle can be supplied with energy. This avoids situations in which the aircraft can not make its way back due to a lack of energy. The energy transfer can be done on both sides provided for this purpose connections or wireless (inductive, capacitive).
In an alternative embodiment, a network-independent power supply is provided. As a result, the operation of the device is ensured even during power outages. Depending on the size and energy requirements of the device for this purpose batteries / rechargeable batteries or a generator can be used. In addition, it is conceivable alternative energies such. B. solar radiation or wind energy and thereby to achieve a largely network-independent operation of the device.
In an advantageous embodiment of the invention, a mechanism for transferring postal and delivery consignments to an unmanned aerial vehicle is provided, which is connected to the control unit. This mechanism may, for example, interact with the landing site described above. Due to this mechanism, it is possible not only to receive broadcasts via the device, but also to send them.
In order to increase the storage capacity of the device, it is advantageous if the storage container is a rotary or paternoster magazine with several storage compartments. For example, after being accepted by the device, a consignment to be stored can be transported via a conveyor belt to a specific free storage compartment, or the entire magazine can continue to rotate in the manner of a carousel. The assignment of the programs to the respective subjects takes place via the control unit.
It is also possible to arrange the plurality of storage compartments and to provide a gripping arm or the like for the loading and unloading of the loading compartments.
The object is achieved for the method by using a device as described above and performing the following steps: establishing communication between the device and an unmanned aerial vehicle; Matching data stored by the user / shipper in the control unit of the device and data stored in the aircraft for identification; in the case of a positive identification unlocking and opening of the closure element of the storage container by the control unit; Depositing the shipment in the storage container through the aircraft; and closing and locking the closure element of the storage container.
It is advantageous if the user is already informed during the deposit of the shipment or shortly after the deposit that the consignment has been delivered. This means a maximum time savings for the user.
According to one aspect of the invention, the user inputs his access data to determine his authorization via the input device. The entered access data are compared with data stored in the control unit, and in case of a positive identification, the control unit unlocks the closure element of the storage container. This ensures that only authorized users have access to the storage container. If the control unit of the device is connected, for example, via the Internet to a central office, the security can still be increased by appropriate measures, such. For example, by using a mTAN that is sent to the user via SMS.
Further advantages, features and possible applications of the present invention will become apparent from the following description in conjunction with the embodiments illustrated in the drawings.
In the description, the claims, and the drawing, the terms and associated reference numerals used in the list of reference numerals below are used. In the drawing:
1 a perspective view of a device according to the invention with the rear wall removed;
2 a sectional rear view of the device 1 ;
3 a front view of the device 1 ;
4 a sectional plan view of the device 1 , and
5 a schematic flow diagram of a possible procedure of a method according to the claimed invention.
The 1 to 4 show a total with the reference number 10 designated device according to the invention for receiving and storing postal and delivery consignments according to an embodiment of the invention. For a better overview, see 1 the back wall not shown.
The device 10 is essentially in a cuboid housing 14 housed, whose interior 15 from a ceiling plate 16 , a floor plate 18 , two side walls 20 and 22 , a front wall 24 and a back wall 26 is limited. In all the aforementioned limitations of the housing is to its thermal insulation polyurethane 14a brought in. Alternatively, for example, the use of polystyrene is conceivable. In the sidewall 20 is a door 28 provided by the interior 15 can be entered by a person to perform, for example, maintenance or repairs.
In the sidewall 22 is in the ceiling tile 16 adjacent area an opening 30 provided by the postal and delivery consignments and / or used to transport a consignment drones 12 in the interior 15 of the housing 14 reach. To damage when entering the drone 12 in the interior 15 or when exiting the interior 15 while avoiding the dimensions of the opening 30 To keep as low as possible, is a landing platform 32 provided on a drone 12 lands or sends a shipment and, where appropriate together with the landed drone, between a position outside the housing 14 and a position in the interior 15 of the housing is pivotable, see also 4 , The landing platform 32 has a plurality of not shown in the figures recesses through which rainwater and smaller foreign bodies such as leaves can escape.
It is also possible that the drone 12 Drops a shipment without landing on the landing platform 32 to land. To save space and the device 10 easier to design, instead of the landing platform 32 for dropping shipments by drones 12 for example, a flap in the ceiling plate 16 be provided.
To connect the landing platform 32 with the housing 14 is an arm 34 provided, via a conventional swivel joint 36 in the ceiling tile 16 and the side wall 22 adjacent area on the back wall 26 of the housing 14 is attached. Through the swivel 36 runs perpendicular to the ceiling plate 16 a pivot axis 36a to the arm 34 including landing platform 32 is pivotable. One with the swivel 36 operatively connected electromechanical motor 38 serves as a drive for the pivoting movement. One at the opening 30 provided bolt 31 locks the landing platform 32 in the swung-in state.
The landing platform 32 has a shorter edge 40 on, in the swung-out state of the landing platform 32 outside the case 14 parallel to the side wall 22 and in the pivoted state in the interior 15 of the housing 14 parallel to the back wall 26 located. Furthermore, the landing platform points 32 one perpendicular to the shorter edge 40 standing longer edge 42 on, in the swung out state outside the case 14 parallel to the plane of the back wall 26 and in the pivoted state in the in the side wall 22 provided opening 30 located. At the longer edge 42 is the closure plate 44 attached, whose dimensions are the dimensions of the opening 30 correspond and which is arranged so that they are in the swung state of the landing platform 32 the opening 30 completely closes. Additionally is at the opening 30 foamed plastic material 14a provided, the closed closure plate 44 the interior 15 protects against the entry of moisture and dirt.
For storage of shipments are on the bottom plate 18 in the front wall 24 adjacent area two storage containers 46 in the form of a standing straight circular cylinder with a wall 47 intended. Every storage container 46 has six superimposed rotatable floors 48 on, by star-shaped partitions 50 again in six subjects each 52 are divided. To rotate the floors 48 are each engines 46a provided, which is not shown for reasons of clarity in the figures. All floors 48 are through one over the entire height of the storage container 46 extending, to the rear wall 26 pointing opening 54 in the wall 47 accessible. Here are the openings 54 so dimensioned that in an open position exactly one compartment 52 per floor 48 is released. In the wall 47 is for the purpose of thermal insulation polystyrene 14a introduced so that in the unreleased subjects 52 supported Shipments are additionally secured against temperature fluctuations. If required, separate cooling and / or heating devices can be provided.
For positioning of programs and drones 12 in the interior 15 of the housing 14 is a gripper arm 72 with two parallel gripping jaws 74 whose distance is variable for the purpose of gripping and loosening provided. The gripper arm 72 is rotatably mounted and one on a carriage 68 arranged guide rod 70 Moveable along a z-axis, wherein the carriage 68 over two longitudinal rails 60 along an x-axis and over two crossbars 62 along a y-axis is movable. Here are the two longitudinal rails 60 firmly with the bottom plate 18 connected and parallel to each other spaced between the rear wall 26 and the front wall 24 , The two crossbars 62 are by two cross struts 64 firmly connected. The cross struts 64 have the bottom side a the longitudinal rails 60 adapted hollow profile 66 on, so the crossbars 62 as a pair of rails on the longitudinal rails 60 along the x-axis are movable. The carriage 68 turn on the crossbars 62 applied and movable on this along the y-axis. Such an arrangement of a positionable in three spatial axes gripping arm and the drive by an overview not shown here motor 76 are well known. Further explanation is therefore omitted.
In the interior 15 of the housing 14 are on the sidewall 22 two charging stations 80 to charge batteries of the drones 12 intended. Each charging station 80 includes two each vertically from the side wall 22 in the direction of the side wall 20 protruding loading arms 82 with integrated induction coils for inductive charging and one between the charging arms 82 arranged storage area 84 for recording a drone. The induction coils are not shown for clarity. Alternatively, one of the two charging stations 80 be carried out without induction coils, so that it serves only in case of need, the short-term storage of a drone.
On the ceiling plate 16 is a photovoltaic module 86 arranged for off-grid power supply. The photovoltaic module 86 is designed as a rectangular panel, which at an acute angle to the ceiling plate 16 is employed and whose the ceiling plate 16 adjacent edge 86a flush with one of the sidewall 20 and the ceiling tile 16 formed edge 20a concludes. To provide a more flexible positioning of the device 10 It is also conceivable to use the photovoltaic module with the greatest possible energy yield of the photovoltaic 86 rotatable on the ceiling plate 16 to install.
Further, on the ceiling plate 16 a carrier bar 88 provided on a camera 90 for monitoring the environment and an anemometer 92 are arranged to monitor the wind conditions.
To protect users from the weather is at one between the front wall 24 and the ceiling tile 16 formed edge 24a is a canopy 25 arranged in a conventional manner. On the front wall 24 , please refer 3 , are a touchscreen 94 for identifying a user and for inputting control commands, a dispensing opening 96 about which in the device 10 stored broadcasts can be received by a user, and an acceptance opening 98 on the shipments to be sent by a user in the device 10 can be deposited, arranged, see 3 , The acceptance opening 98 has a door to be manually opened and closed by a user from outside the device 98a on. The dispensing opening 96 whereas, for safety reasons, one does not have to be manually opened in the interior 15 of the housing 14 guided in rails and by an electric motor 96b sliding sliding door 96a on. For a better overview because of the representation of the rails and the electric motor 96b omitted in the figures. To make the device a little more space-saving, output and acceptance can also be done through a single opening.
On the side wall 20 is a transfer station 78 provided, the two perpendicular from the side wall 20 in the direction of the side wall 22 protruding arms 79 for short-term storage of a drone 12 includes. The transfer station 78 is arranged so that on her with the gripper arm 72 a drone 12 can be placed and that the gripper arm 72 the attached drone 12 with one of a user in the device 10 stored consignment can be loaded.
To control the device 10 and for communication between the drone 12 and the device 10 and on the other hand, a central office 104 and the device 10 is in the interior 15 a control and communication unit 100 provided between the ceiling plate 16 , Side wall 20 and front wall 24 is arranged. In the control and communication unit 100 is a not separately shown transceiver unit 102 integrated, by means of a communication on the one hand between the drone 12 and the device 10 over a WLAN connection and on the other hand between the central office 104 and the device 10 is made over the internet. Means for establishing the communication and the standards used for the data transmission can be chosen differently if necessary.
Between the control and communication unit 100 on the one hand, and on the other hand, for swinging in and out of the landing platform 32 used engine 38 used to rotate the floors 48 the storage container 46 used engines 46a , for positioning the gripper arm 72 used engine 76 , which is used to open and close / lock the sliding door 96a used engine 96b , the charging stations 80 , the camera 90 and the anemometer 92 are for the sake of clarity, not shown lines 106 intended. Over the lines 106 are all functions of the device 10 through the control and communication unit 100 controllable.
5 FIG. 12 is a flow chart illustrating one possible flow of a method according to the claimed invention. FIG. As a result, the interaction of the previously described elements of the device 10 again clarified.
At the approach of the drone 12 is over the radio unit 102 made a communication 200 between the control and communication unit 100 the device 10 and the drone 12 , There is an adjustment 202 of data in the drone 12 are deposited and data belonging to the control and communication unit 100 in advance from the headquarters 104 were transmitted. If the result of the adjustment 202 is negative, so for example, the drone 12 not transported shipment for the device 10 is determined, or if the charging capacity of the device 10 are exhausted sends the control and communication unit 100 over the radio unit 102 a signal to the drone 12 with which it refuses to accept 204 , This is the delivery attempt for the device 10 completed 232 ,
If the result of the adjustment 202 is positive and no further problems are detected, causes the control and communication unit 100 by a signal to the engine 38 a swinging 206 the landing platform 32 , The drone 12 lands 208a on the landing platform 32 and at the same time releases the shipment 208b , This is where the landing platform pans 32 in the interior 15 of the housing 14 one 210 ,
On a signal of the control and communication unit 100 to the engine 76 takes the gripper arm 72 the drone 12 from the land platform 32 on 212 and promoted 214 on a free charging station 80 to charge the battery of the drone 12 , Subsequently, the gripper arm 72 by another signal of the control and communication unit 100 to the engine 76 again to the landing platform 32 moved to record there, the transported by the drone broadcast 216 , The control and communication unit 100 chooses a free part 52 in one of the storage containers 46 and controls the gripper arm loaded with the consignment accordingly 218a , If necessary, at the same time an engine 46a actuated 218b to the rotation of a floor 48 to effect and the appropriate subject 52 to bring it into a position where it is from the opening 54 of the storage container 46 is released.
Then the central office 104 through the control and communication unit 100 notified 220a in that a certain consignment is ready for collection; the central office 104 agreed 220b then the user.
When picking up the shipment is from the control and communication unit 100 first the access authorization of the user via a query on the touch screen 94 verified 222 , If the verification fails, for example due to multiple entries of incorrect data, the output of the transmission will be from the control and communication unit 100 denied. This is the output process for the device 10 completed 232 ,
In case of a successful verification, the control and communication unit controls 100 the gripper arm 72 to that, the consignment from the tray 52 for dispensing opening 96 to transport 226 , This is followed by a control of the motor 96b to the sliding door 96a to open 228 , The removal 230 by the user, and the output process is finished 232 ,
LIST OF REFERENCE NUMBERS
- inner space
- ceiling tile
- Side wall
- Side wall
- front wall
- rear wall
- landing platform
- swivel axis
- locking mechanism
- shorter edge
- longer edge
- closing plate
- storage containers
- partition wall
- longitudinal rails
- transverse rails
- hollow profile
- traveling slide
- guide rod
- claw arm
- Transfer station
- charging station
- loading arms
- storage area
- Photovoltaic module
- support rod
- discharge opening
- sliding door
- receiving opening
- Control and communication unit
- Transmitter / receiver unit
- Establishing the communication
- Refusal to accept
- Swinging the landing platform
- Landing the drone
- Unlock the holding mechanism
- Swinging in the landing platform
- Grasping the drone by gripping arm
- Transportation of the drone to the charging station
- Grasping the shipment through the gripper arm
- Carriage of the shipment in a compartment
- Rotation of a floor
- Notification of the headquarters
- Understand the user
- Verification of the access authorization
- Refusal of issue
- Carriage of the consignment from the compartment to the dispensing opening
- Opening the sliding door
- The End