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Automobile based packet switching network
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

I'm tired of all these networks where the physical parts don't move, and only the bit patterns get copied. So I propose a different kind of network. To implement this network, put a small computer with a short-range network transceiver (Bluetooth or similar) inside lots of cars in a major city. Whenever two cars come within radio range of each other, each downloads some or all of the packets the other car is carrying, and adds them to its own set of held packets. In this way, packets get physically carried from one part of the city to another, as well as electronically transferred. Optional: when the cars get back to their garage, they can do a similar transaction with their owner's home computer.

An actual useful purpose for such a network is left as an exercise for the reader.

Jeremi, Mar 01 2002

Physical Internet http://www.halfbake...physical_20internet
Using pneumatic tubes is another way of moving your IP packets. [pottedstu, Mar 01 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

p-mail http://news.bbc.co....1321000/1321176.stm
Already done, with pigeons... "transfer rates equivalent to 0.15bps" [hippo, Mar 01 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Robert X Cringely article http://www.pbs.org/...pulpit20020523.html
Toyota's gonna implement it in Japan (see end of article) [Jeremi, May 25 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

PostNet - baking http://www.spectrum...sep02/wireless.html
Indian network uses bus-mounted wireless servers to reach rural villagers [BunsenHoneydew, Oct 04 2004]


       Bandwidth saving... I work for a Telecoms Company, and when you hire a leaseline between sites you pay for installation and rental of bandwidth. If you could send some of your less important data via car network, then it could mean you don't require such a wide bandwidth and could cut your leaseline costs in half. This would work especially well for trucking companys that travel from a warehouse, to another warehouse in large numbers - ie. supermarkets. Stats on weekly takings, etc, could be taken from the store when the deliverys are dropped off, and swapped for price updates, and offers.. etc... all without anyone having to physically maintain it.   

       A croissant for foresight alone my friend!
Danzarak, Mar 01 2002

       Ehm, isn't this dangerously close to using old fashioned post?
mcscotland, Mar 01 2002

       Yes, except that the data actually gets there.
angel, Mar 01 2002

       You'd have to have all sorts of handshaking to make sure that the sender knew that the data arrived.   

       What is there was a collision?
st3f, Mar 01 2002

       You could always have a modem line to fall back on, it would cost 5p to send a message back to the sender, to say the data had arrived... same as if you were sending multiple packets, and one didn't arrive, you could use a slower connection to fill in the gap.   

       Actually, bandwidth won't be an issue... DWDM (Digital Wave Division Multiplexing) allows the equivalent of 6million simultaneous phonecalls on a single pair of fibres. Cellular and radio bandwidth will be the killer in future.
Danzarak, Mar 01 2002

       Your dream of a data network with physical moving parts has been implemented using Pigeon technology. See link.
hippo, Mar 01 2002

       If you snail-mail a full DVD-R, and it arrives in three days, you get a transfer rate of 145kbps.   

       Of course, this doesn't have the advantages of robustness and availability to multiple users that are offered by a netowork like Jeremi's
beauxeault, Mar 01 2002

       A network admin guy will always tell you "never under estimate the bandwidth of a courier and a mag tape"
mcscotland, Mar 01 2002

       It seems that you have the cars save the packets from the sourceand "drive" them to the destination. Why not just have each car (with the equipement) act like a repeater and just retransmit the packt to the neighboring cars. The ricochet network in cities only has a few access points; the rest is just radio repeaters every half mile or every block. The HAM radio packet network works like this, although there are "store and forward" satelites (recieve packet in USA, transmit it in Europe...). I am not a HAM operator, but thinking about it. There would need to be some way (centralized server, distributed storage) for the cars to know where the destination is, so that that packet is only passes along in the correct direction, not every car in the network. Perhaps each car should have a GPS and "CAR-IP" Address in a central server (easiest privacy issues); or each car knows it neighbors, and they querry each other or something. Each car should broadcast its presence every few seconds, so other cars will know it's there. It must have adjustable power levels, low power, low range when close to other cars in the network, high power and long range when on a country road in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps having a few fixed and/or satelite repeaters will help the network. Possibly even multiple antenna on the car (an omni for short-medium range comminications, and if someone want to go where there are no nearby "network" cars: front, rear, left, and right directional 90degree sector pannel antennas, and an upward yaggi antenna if satelites are used).
dr_photon, Mar 02 2002

       dr_photon - there is substantial researh on the topic of car ad hoc networks. Experimental implementations exist today and are used to propagate various information (e.g., traffic forecasts, a crash report from up ahead, etc).
mostwired, Oct 10 2004


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