Method And Apparatus For Processing Vehicles Moving Through A Conduit By Air

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A method and apparatus for processing vehicles which are moved through a conduit by air through sequential zones one, two and three. Preferably, the zones are inclined downwardly towards downstream for aiding movement of the vehicles downstream by gravity. Zone one is a storage zone which preferably has vents adjacent its upstream end and its downstream end for controlling the speed of movement of vehicles into zone one and from zone one to zone two. Zone two is the processing zone which receives vehicles from zone one and releases the vehicles to zone three. Zone two includes an air blocking vehicle stop at its downstream end against which a first vehicle is held, and includes a holding arm which holds a second vehicle while the leading first vehicle is released. The first vehicle is released to zone three, but only when three is clear of vehicles and a second vehicle is positioned behind the first vehicle. Thereafter, the second vehicle is released and moves to the downstream end of zone two and becomes the leading vehicle for continuing the cycle. Additional vehicles moving through the conduit are decelerated in zones one and two with the aid of air trapped behind the air blocking vehicle stop and/or parked vehicles. An accelerator may be provided in zone two for providing a rapid start of the leading vehicle from zone two into zone three. Vehicle position sensors are positioned in the various zones for sensing the presence of vehicles and controlling the movement of the vehicles through the conduit.
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