Now I wouldn't be surprised if something like this was already planned, but I had an idea for an item to help make automation chains easier. Right now, the only way to automate the transfer of items over a distance is to use a chain of auto arms, which is both hugely power inefficient and unreliable, so why not instead have a sort of conveyor system?
I got the idea from seeing a very early clip of gameplay where tethers could transport items. I'm thinking something similar to that, except it's a separate item like the power extenders, except maybe with more range between segments (power extenders have a short connection range, I think the conveyor would be better with a connection range similar to tethers) The advantages of an "Auto-Conveyor" would be the ability to transfer items over a larger distance with a single line, and it would use less power than auto-arms. The tradeoff, however, is that the Auto-Conveyor lacks the versatility of the Auto-Arm, it cannot have item filters placed upon it, and it cannot pull from storages or deposit items in storages, so Auto-Conveyors would need to be loaded/unloaded either manually or with an Auto-Arm. Like Auto-Arms, Auto-Conveyors would only be capable of transferring Tier 1 items/resources, and would be one-way with an input and output side (although it would be very useful to be able to switch the input/output sides without having to rebuild the entire line) So if you wanted two-way resource travel, you would need two Auto-Conveyor lines.
I imagine Auto-Conveyors would be unlockable/accessible at around the same time as, if not before, Auto-Arms, allowing the player to, say, create a conveyor line out of a mine and place resources upon it as they fill their inventory? Also, in the event that an item is waiting to be unloaded at the output, and another item arrives behind it, I imagine it and any more items arriving would simply wait patiently behind the first and move up as items are unloaded, meaning Auto-Conveyors could serve as a makeshift, if totally impractical, storage device. (on that note, perhaps storage sensors could be used to detect if a conveyor line is fully backed up or not?) Assuming a conveyor is backed up all the way from the output to the input, the conveyor would simply not accept any new items until space is freed VIA an item being unloaded. Perhaps, like Auto-Arms, the speed at which items travel the conveyor would be affected by how much power was available?
Note: Perhaps for balancing reasons, the player would be able to remove or place an item anywhere along the conveyor, but Auto-Arms would only be able to load/unload from the inputs/outputs respectively? Just a thought. Also maybe conveyors can only accept power at the input? So as not to make power extenders less relevant? or maybe not.
I think it's a pretty cool idea and I would love to build little conveyor lines all over the place. Either way though, I'm excited to see what comes next, and keep up the good work!