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Distributed shipping

It might get there. We guarantee.
  (+50, -2)(+50, -2)(+50, -2)
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Instead of postage, attach to a parcel a GPS system and a display with a digitally generated arrow.

When the box is held upright, it points to its destination.

Simply hand the box to a passerby who happens to be traveling in the right direction. When they deviate from the arrow, they will hand the box to someone who is headed in the right direction.

Eventually it might get there.

GutPunchLullabies, Apr 18 2006

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       You couldn't possible insure parcels with that system. Bun for again devising a way to test the honor system.
Letsbuildafort, Apr 18 2006
  

       Datagram-tastic
Jinbish, Apr 18 2006
  

       Wow. I love it. [+] All we need now is a sound activated recording device in the package to record all the comments from people as the package heads toward its destination.
spekkie, Apr 19 2006
  

       it could (don't know how) attach itself to the arm like a prisoner's tag.   

       apologies - this anno is quite half-baked in itself.
po, Apr 19 2006
  

       [po] , I LOVE it. It attaches to the arm with a handcuff. It won't let go until it is A. moved 50 meters closer to its' destination and B. Clamped to another wrist with another manacle.
GutPunchLullabies, Apr 19 2006
  

       Hmmmmm.... Dying of having 500 lbs. of parcels clamped to you and being unable to move might not be pleasant.   

       Also anyone annoyed by the imposition would manacle the parcel to some fixed object like a statue of George Washington.   

       Cancel the cuffs, everyone, repeat: moratorium on the manacles.
GutPunchLullabies, Apr 19 2006
  

       How does it know when it's *at* it's destination? The arrow starts going wacky?
phundug, Apr 19 2006
  

       When it gets within 500 feet, it begins yelling the name of the reciepient.
Letsbuildafort, Apr 19 2006
  

       How about when it's manacled to the right person it explodes. Oh wait, is this for non-lethal packages?
Worldgineer, Apr 19 2006
  

       [Worldgineer] What if it's manacled to the left person? Does it detonate then, too?   

       Attack of the Killer Postal Packages anyone?   

       What [Letsbuildafort] said.
DesertFox, Apr 19 2006
  

       It might need some kind of 'distance to destination' display (or perhaps the arrow changes colour from blue = far away to red = damn close). If it's pointing north-west and I'm going 5 miles north, that's useful for a parcel going 100 miles northwest but not one going 1 mile northwest.   

       Or there might be a big hill or cliff in the way. Probably no-one is going to climb straight up the hill, but plenty of people might be going around it.   

       It's a genius idea though. I might leave a parcel addressed to myself on a bench (I guess with a city map stuck on it with highlighted route to my house, rather than a cool GPS arrow display), just to see if it gets to me.
imaginality, Apr 19 2006
  

       //Also anyone annoyed by the imposition would manacle the parcel to some fixed object like a statue of George Washington.//   

       Design the manacles to take your pulse. That way it won't be fooled by statues. And make them so that if you take the parcel in the wrong direction, or lazily sit there doing nothing, they give you electric shocks to encourage you to do your duty.
imaginality, Apr 19 2006
  

       Too Pollyanna. So, if I am given one of these packages, and I just drop it on the ground, the arrow still indicates which direction it should be headed, so the natural-born-courier-types in my society will eventually push it to its final destination? Perhaps this is how soccer got its start.
xrayTed, Apr 20 2006
  

       That'd make an interesting film. 'Natural Born Couriers' - sort of a Tarantinoesque version of The Postman.
Ian Tindale, Apr 20 2006
  

       or Man Bites Dog - yuk!
po, Apr 20 2006
  

       There you go. Package the object (with lots of stuffing) in a generally ball-shaped object. It'll get there, although it might never get opened...
RayfordSteele, Apr 20 2006
  

       A speaker system could also make encouraging noises ("thank you kind sir/madam") when good progress is being made and shout "Oi! Oi! Oi! Put me down!" when it thinks it's going too far out of its way. It could also sound sad ([GC] nods to [futurebird]) when stuck somewhere so that some kind passing soul would take pity and go out of their way to progress delivery.
Gordon Comstock, Apr 20 2006
  

       I love this idea, but regret that in the current security-conscious climate (certainly here in London), not only would your parcel get removed for destruction by controlled detonation, and cause nearby streets to be closed by the police, but the recipient would probably get a visit from the boys in blue as well, for causing a security risk. *Sigh* - sad but true.
Katisha, Apr 20 2006
  

       At the moment "going postal" is confined to a relatively small proportion of the population. If this scheme were to be implemented, I'd be worried that this violent tendency suffered by communication workers might become more widespread.
coprocephalous, Apr 20 2006
  

       Brilliant. Could emit a piercing whine to encourage people to pass it on before their ear drums burst. [+]
Mr Phase, Apr 20 2006
  

       You know, you could also make this like those japanese toys that you had to babysit and "feed". If the package doesn't move for a while, it really starts to act up.   

       -----------   

       Lady at the ticket counter: "Sir, do you have any packages that have been given to you by anyone you don't know?"   

       Guy with a bunch of boxes who is pointing sheepishly at a huge pile of packages with electronic arrows on them: "Well, uh, yeah... and if you'd kindly point in the direction that this airplane is going to be going, I'll check and see if I can get rid of a few before we board."   

       Lady at the ticket counter: "Hello? Security?"
zigness, Apr 20 2006
  

       Maybe the package could get cold or warm to indicate its proximity to the destination.
Rm Brz, Apr 20 2006
  

       Or it could tick! And the ticks get faster the closer you get to the destination. Kind of like a geiger counter.
Galbinus_Caeli, Apr 20 2006
  

       Or start crying as if homesick.
skinflaps, Apr 20 2006
  

       what happens if your package is lost in the mail? i have insurance, but i dont know who would pay it.
The Guy On The Couch, Apr 20 2006
  

       Possible modification:   

       Give out free RFID cards for people to carry around. Then read in that RFID when a package moves and credit that person with a little bit (weighted by distance) of the price of shipping. You may end up with freelance shippers and people who load up with packages before taking a road trip (although having actual addresses may work better for this).
Worldgineer, Apr 20 2006
  

       How about adding an electromagnet so the package could be stuck to vehicles. When direction needs to change, it could drop off in an intersection (assuming GPS mapping) and another vehicle could 'pick it up' at random. I like the idea giving the courier/driver some credit for carrying the package x distance.
pascha, Apr 20 2006
  

       Just imagining all the idiots walking into the ocean carrying packages with arrows on them.   

       Packages saying "good job, going the right way", as they drown....
sophocles, Apr 20 2006
  

       Bun because I want to have faith in humanity.
dbmag9, Aug 03 2006
  

       The only problem with this is that reliable hand held GPS devices costs upwards of $200, and they consume a lot of battery power, so you'd probably need to add another $100 worth of lithium batteries if you want the thing to run for two weeks.   

       Somebody on the way will be inclined to steal that equipment. Perhaps it can be done 10 years from now when GPS has become a commodity. Or perhaps you could use an old cell phone instead of GPS. On GSM phones you can use the cell broadcast to tell (roughly) where you are.
kinemojo, Aug 31 2007
  

       How do you know it's at its destination? I dunno, how about *an address*.
partdavid, Aug 31 2007
  

       In the (semi?) popular pastime of "geocaching" there is a thing called a "traveler" that "wants" to go from one cache to another as indicated on it's lable. The tracking number on the tag is registered at the home page and when someone moves the unit, they can update the location online. The site allows for visitors to view the movement of travelers. It's interesting to see that some travelers have moved rather quickly and over very long distances.
James Newton, Aug 15 2008
  

       What if somebody opens the package instead of handing it off and what about at night?
letstopsmoking, Aug 16 2008
  

       I've thought about attaching a geocaching travelbug to a parcel, to see if other cachers would "ship" it to my destination for me. I guess it's time to try that!
Myself, Jul 26 2009
  
      
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