Another series of tubes.

Stanford Hospital's Pneumatic Tube Messaging System

It hosts 124 stations (every nursing unit has its own); 141 transfer units, 99 inter-zone connectors and 29 blowers. To help alert employees to the arrival of containers, the system has more than three dozen different combinations of chiming tones. [...]

But the technology endures -- and thrives -- in hospitals, thanks in part to more recent improvements in the delivery system. Originally, the tubes would arrive with a thud, a hard landing that could damage sensitive lab samples. Then in the late 1980s engineers figured out a way to control airflow to slow down the containers for a soft landing at their destination station. [...]

Depending on the diameter of a tube, cylinders can reach speeds of up to 25 feet per second, about 18 miles per hour, far faster than any human could ever manage.

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10 Responses:

  1. kitlizzy says:

    I'm told these run in between the floors in the academic/clinical/lab building where I started working last week. Makes really strange noises and it's way louder than you'd give pneumatic tubes credit for.

    • asan102 says:

      At the medical center where I work, we have a similar system that uses slow little cable-pulled (I think) carts that travel on metal tracks in the ceiling. They seem to be constantly removing huge swaths of ceiling tiles to service them, and they make terrible grinding noises when they drive overhead.

  2. lokaen says:

    If not for NYC political corruption, the New York subway system would have been built decades earlier and pneumatically powered.

  3. badgerbag says:

    They use pneumatic tubes in Sequoia Hospital too!

  4. gryazi says:

    Around here they just have frickin' robots.

  5. 205guy says:

    Have you heard of the sadly defunct pneumatic post of Paris?

  6. xunker says:

    "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon series of pneumatic tubes full of mag tape"