Foodtubes would transport goodies underground, inventor says
December 6th, 2010
03:59 PM ET

Foodtubes would transport goodies underground, inventor says

If a UK inventor has his way, food, that most basic of staples, will one day be zipped from the farm to the supermarket like data over the internet.

When you calculate fuel costs and the release of harmful truck emissions, food transportation, over interstate highways and even railroads, wastes time and money, according to Noel Hodson, inventor and coordinator of the Foodtubes Project.

The Foodtubes would transport encapsulated food to “terminals” at specific stops - supermarkets, mom and pop stores, etc. - along an underground circuit (pictured above).

The cycle would operate on a “goods in, waste out” principle, Hodson said in a phone interview Monday with CNN.

“Once it is empty, the capsule would be filled with trash and garbage and sent back for recycling,” Hodson said. “That's why we use the term 'circuit'. The address is like an internet package, and they're tracked by software” for quality control.

“And it would be fed by green electricity,” Hodson said. “That’s my final vision.”

The technology behind the capsule propulsion would borrow heavily from the roller coaster industry, Hodson said.

Hodson estimates selling a food-filled capsule for about $5 (free for empty capsules), adding that the venture would be extremely attractive to food service manufacturers and stores.

The pipelines could be put under major urban areas “without digging up the entire city,” Hodson said. The website Ars Technica has an artist's rendering of a proposed Foodtubes station in London.

“It's most profitable if it's used in a dense, urban environment. It would be quite possible to put a circuit - about 100 miles probably about 400 entrances and exits on it. And that would serve about 130,000 households, going to the shops that those households use,” Hodson said.

The venture would be financed by a private-public partnership, Hodson said. He said the Foodtubes Project has early interest from the town of Croydon, England, south of London.

The plan has the potential to revamp the entire food service industry, Hodson said.

But would the railroad companies and trucking industry play nice?

“I’ve hired bodyguards,” Hodson said in jest.

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Filed under: Energy • Environment • Fast Food • Food
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Mmmmm

    What laced sugar-cube is this inventor sucking on??? Pneumatic tube systems are a thing of the pass...riddled with transport problems, jamming, aside from the fact that the system can be infiltrated with inappropiate items.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Red Shuttle ... http://x.co/Ka0w

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      it's an old idea that seems simple but it' too expensive, there are much simpler ways to do it
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      ... http://x.co/EGXP
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      .

      December 6, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Planet Express – Our crew is replaceable, your package isn't.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. biggerthanyou

    This is the stupidest idea I've ever heard. A malfunction and the tubes of food gets sent flying in the air landing on us, wouldn't be too nice waking up with lettuce all over my house. Thank ýou

    December 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      You're just jealous.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. wow

    like the blood circulation system in the body. India needs to stop thinking that we are their little space ship shaped like a baby and functioning like the wonderful human body thats going to take them somewhere. Get your own life India!

    December 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      To the flying machine!

      December 7, 2010 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. wow

    thats yer problem right there people .... disconnect from Hindi .. freeks all of them.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Lies, lies and slander!

      December 7, 2010 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. skinny BILL

    Obviously the American food supply chain works just fine and needs no "food tube". Now if we could just get the fat greedy obese lard-azzes to stop eating so much food, there would be enough left-over to feed starving children. I say fat-tax them to the point they can't afford to be fat.

    December 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Trapped for eternity.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    This technology has already been deployed successfully by mexican drug cartels.

    December 6, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Good news everyone!

      December 7, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. nick

    Hmmm, kind of interesting really.
    I think most people will agree that trucking is a highly inefficient means of transporting anything, so it is clear an alternative will one day be adopted. Not sure this is the answer, but its got some potential I suppose. Pneumatic tube systems are primarily a thing of the past because of the comparative advantages of electronic transmission, not because of malfunctioning. And electronic transmission only works for information, not solid items, so it is quite possible that something along those lines would be ideal for transporting food (and anything else really).

    December 6, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      But going through a divorce together, you can't pretend that didn't bring us closer together.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. flux

    I drew that picture when I was eight. Inventor? I think not!

    December 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Sweet zombie Jesus!

      December 7, 2010 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. kim

    Spoiled food. Bugs and rodent infestation alone are a few reason why foodtubes is the stupidest thing i ever heard not to even mention sanitary problems. The person who thought of this does not need a body guard they need rehab and a shrink. I cant belive they think the public is that stupid. Be forreal.

    December 6, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Why is this godforsaken hellhole worth dying for?

      December 7, 2010 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Thomas

    I agree Nick. I like interesting, innovative ideas. But um, somehow I just dont see this as an option. Sounds like an engineering nightmare. And a helluva mess if something does go wrong.

    December 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      This is the worst part.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. poo

    this guy is so baked

    December 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      But my point remains valid.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    @Bob. Dam U got me, lol. @The Red Shuttle. That's right, too expensive, but great for pizza delivery in 30 seconds or less.

    December 7, 2010 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      Lightspeed Briefs – Style and comfort for the discriminating crotch.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. helenhull102951

    Stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid and stupid !!! This dude is on CRACK OR SOME NEW STUPID DRUGS... Been through too many Stupid Schools...

    December 7, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      No I'm not. Oh wait – yes I am. But my point remains valid.

      December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. osama bin diesel

    Stfu hellen

    December 7, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Bender

      And then the battle is not so bad?

      December 7, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. DeDo

    He's on the right track.
    Here's a quote for the skeptics: "Great spirits have always been violently opposed by mediocre minds." – Albert Einstein

    December 8, 2010 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |