Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Packet switched elevator

Packet switching applied to the elevator
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Imagine calling an elevator, getting in when it arrives and keying in the address you want to go to. The elevator descends (or ascends), and enters a public transportation network where it may be appended to other such elevators and moved around a city to another location. Eventually the elevator you're in gets to your desired location and the doors open and you get out.

A payment may be required for such service. I can imagine that for a premium, you get a private elevator car, otherwise, the car might stop and pick up and deposit other people along the way.

The system of cars might also be adaptable to a city's current subway system where the cars are loaded as payload on special trains. The whole network of elevator cars would be run by a network of computers which would compute the best route, balancing loads and hopefully minimizing transportation time.

Drawbacks: 1) this idea is expensive to implement. Massive numbers of buildings would have to be partially reconstructed for this to work. 2) The number of people that can fit on a crowded subway train would seem to far outnumber the number of people which could fit in the equivalent space in individual elevator cars. It would seem difficult to arrive at an economy of scale, especially in an already crowded city.

mgrant, Apr 11 2001

physical internet http://www.halfbake...physical_20internet
For smaller objects. [egnor, Apr 11 2001]

Personal Rapid Transit http://faculty.wash...itrans/siteindx.htm
This sounds very similar. (Link borrowed from "walking highways".) [egnor, Apr 11 2001]

RUF http://www.cnn.com/.../ruf.car/index.html
Electric cars which join up in an automated rail switching network. [egnor, Apr 11 2001]


       Reduce cost - use a really big paper ENVELOPE for your WRAPPER - easier to ADDRESS, and you would be doing true PACKET switching . . . Of course your network would have to ensure that TTL is set to ensure transportees don't expire before they arrive at their destination . . .
wasraw, Apr 11 2001

       Ah... aren't these called taxicabs? True, taxis don't go under ground, but they come when you call them and go directly to where you want fairly quickly. In all seriousness, it would be interesting to look at a model based on a large number of taxicabs and see how much it resembles an ordered system. I have a feeling that many cabs in competetion with each other may be more efficient at getting people to where they want to go than a centrally controlled public transit system.
alelias, Apr 12 2001

       What's the advantage over a conventional subway? That you don't have to leave your elevator, enter the subway, leave the subway, and get into a different elevator?   

       I note that even ordinary subways don't reach anything close to every building in a city; you'd need to add a lot of infrastructure just to cover that "last mile".
egnor, Apr 12 2001

       Check out the turbolift system on the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701 D ...
8th of 7, Jun 13 2002

       This system would be better than the subway because it would get you closer to your destination, and better than taxis because there would be no traffic jams, collisions, or exhaust emissions. There would also be a relatively small number of these elevators running around because most of them would contain several people. It would be inneficient for these elevators to acually go INTO the buildings, however.
whippinggas, Apr 06 2005

       The elevator should be large enough to contain a bar. Then, there'd be no hurry.
moomintroll, Apr 06 2005

       But if you're too big to fit the elevator, don't you get broken down into many smaller..ahem..components, and then sent?
TolpuddleSartre, Apr 06 2005


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