Parcels may be going underground
Online shopping parcels, garbage and even containers may be delivered below the ground in the future to reduce the effect on ground traffic and improve efficiency.
Shanghai has begun researching an underground transport system between major container ports and inland areas to reduce the number of container trucks on local roads and pollution, senior engineers with the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co told the Shanghai Summit on Global Urban Underground Space Development and Utilization on Monday.
"It is realizable and essential for China to develop such underground transport systems due to the huge number of online shopping parcels being delivered every year," said Qian Qihu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and one of China's top experts on underground development.
The underground parcel transport tubes are smaller than the subway system and can be operated automatically, Qian said. "Major Chinese cities like Shanghai have developed complicated underground subway systems, and the underground logistic system is far easier than that," he said on the sidelines of the forum.
Xiong'an New Area in north China's Hebei Province and Tongzhou District in Beijing's suburbs have incorporated an underground logistic transport system in their development plans, Qian said.
In Shanghai, the underground transport system could include several distributing centers linked to communities. Artificial intelligence and robotic technologies can be involved in the system, said Yu Mingjian, senior chief engineer with the company. Yu is in charge of the underground space development of many downtown landmarks such as the Bund tunnel.
Other examples of the city's underground development include the World Expo 2010 site in the Pudong New Area, Hongqiao Central Business District and the under-construction Beiheng Passage, a 19-kilometer east-west road linking Changning, Putuo, Jing’an, Huangpu, Hongkou and Yangpu districts.
"Shanghai has become a pioneer city on how to use the underground space. It has capabilities, capital, convenience and engineers to do much more things on the underground space development," Dimitris Kaliampakos, president of the Associated Research Centers for the Urban Underground Space, told the forum.
A Shanghai Declaration on the development of underground space was released at the forum to call for eco-friendly and more efficient use of underground space around the world.
The declaration proposes that development of urban underground space should focus on saving land resources, relieving traffic pressure, enhancing urban dynamics and the living environment, improving disaster resistance, protecting the ecological system and reducing pollution.
A previous declaration on the use of underground urban space was released in Tokyo in 1991, marking the beginning of wide range of underground space development across the world.
China can now contribute its wisdom on the underground space development, especially on subway construction, to the world, Qian said.
Over 100 experts from Canada, Japan, Switzerland, the United States, Netherlands and Greece shared their latest research and opinions along with Chinese professionals at the forum which will run through Tuesday.