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By Derek
If anyone has ever played the PC game Grim Fandango, there is a machine which sends messages through the DOD building. I think we could expand that idea to have a virtual network of package delivery systems. You would simply put the package into the containter, close the lid and enter where you want the package to go. This would release the package into a very large tube which would push the package to its destination via vacuum. There would be sensors that detect where the package is going, so that when it gets very close (and there is no package between it and the destination, a cushion is released, stopping the package, which is then lifted using a rising platform to where the person at the other destination can get it. The cushion would then be detracted to let other packages flow. The package would be tracked using the FedEx like system (perhaps using GPS technology?) which tracks its packages. The first system would connect major centres, which then would have subsystems to join the major cities in those general areas. Finally a third subsystem might be used to connect the smaller cites in the area, although at this point the current system (e.g. UPS coming to your door using their brown vans) would suffice. So the package would simply go around the globe to major centres, and then put into a different system of package tubes which serves the local area, and so on until it reaches its destination.

Realistically, this is a very long term idea, but in the nearer future it would make sense to connect the hubs that all the package companies fly to with these tubes.

Reward: Less pollution in the air from jets flying packages is ... priceless.
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By Steve
Wouldn't this require huge ressources and NOT be environment-friendly at all?
By Derek
I guess that really depends. Once it is created, it would become environmentally friendly. I guess it is like the saying "short term pain, for long term gain." short term pain here is using lots of resources to create it, but after it is created, it will eventually become environmentally friendly.

Also, another related idea which would make sense is this: Use bullet trains (those magnetic trains in Europe, I think that's what they are called) to deliver packages and mail between the areas it goes to. Not sure whether this is done now, but it should be.
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By Steve
Still not sure (if I should start building one ;-) ). I would guess that such a system is prone to failures, so probably a lot of resources would still be necessary for repairs (apart from the consequences of downtimes).

Also, you need energy to create vacuum and/or magnetism. Don't know how much, but my instincts tell me that it might be pretty much for covering long distances (considering the fact that this has to be done for each and every package).
By Derek
I guess I've given up on this idea for the real world. However, the magnetic train to carry packages makes sense and should be implemented wherever those trains exist today. All that needs to be done is add one more car to the train (mail car). This was done a long time ago, before planes were invented.

And about creating energy for the vacuum, there would be a vacuum continously. I'm not sure, but I think you'd be able to keep it going fairly easily once it is started.

Yes, you'd need a lot of energy for the bullet trains (they use electromagnets), but they have no exaust. Actually they have no engine either. I guess I'm looking at the old electric car vs. regular car debate. Here, the electric car is the MagLev train, and the regular car is the toxic spewing planes. I guess I'm trying to say this: the MagLev trains are/will be used, so just use one or two cars to transport some of the packages that need to go between the places. Make the most of our resources.
By Stig Bakke's brother Stig
Why does a train have to be maglev to transport mail? You can do so right now with existing trains, or buses, etc...
By Derek
Well I think that people find that trains are just too slow. Planes are much faster, and since time is money, that is what people want. The MagLev trains are almost as fast as planes, so that by using them it would work good. Existing trains should be used for mail and packages that are labelled "not so urgent." (ie regular mail)
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By FlatTop808
Just because you have a maglev train doesn't mean you have less pollution. Those magnets require a huge amount of electricity. Where does that electricity come from? A power plant. And what do power plants do? They: (a) spew toxic crap into the air. (b) create radioactive waste that will still kill you in 10,000 years. (c) flood enormous areas, driving out locals and submerging natural resources.
Its the same for electric cars. You don't get less pollution, the pollution just moves somewhere else.
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