View Full Version : How to transport people without them knowing where they were moved to?

Mr. Mask
03-07-2015, 06:11 PM
I was wondering how to move people to and from a place while keeping its location as secret as possible.

Setting: Modern Day. Cutting-edge tech is available.

My thoughts so far:

There isn't much way of preventing the drivers/pilots of the transport vehicles from knowing where the secret location is, certainly.
Theoretically, we may be at a stage where you could reliably put blinders on the pilot while auto-pilot took him away from the base, then the blinders are removed when he is confused. This would, however, be a very risky measure for the pilot, removing their ability to control the plane during take-off and landings, so it doesn't seem plausible to me even if technically possible. Technically, you may even be able to have a pilot inside the base control the plane remotely during the take-offs and landings, but that would still require justification for going to such measures.
Even with all that, the pilot may b able to keep their sense of direction.

For those who are transported, there is the question of whether you can remove their ability to triangulate the base's position. Batman had his handy sleep spray to put people to sleep when he brought them to the batcave, but I'm not sure sleeping drugs would be safe or reliable enough.

You can try tricks like not letting outside light into the vehicle, surround them with metal and magnetism so compasses won't work. But I'm not sure what you can do about people with a good sense of direction, ala a good spy. You can make false turns and such, but they ought to be able to piece that out. You could try to instil a sense of vertigo so that lose their sense of direction, for long enough to distance them from the area they were familiar with.

Another point is that even if it was impossible to prevent them triangulating their position, you can still probably make their calculations pretty imprecise.

Could someone please point me in the right direction with this?

03-07-2015, 06:42 PM
Have a pilot that's working for your main character and is in on the secret.

Make the people leave electrical devices such as mobile phones that have GPS on them behind. Or you could have some kind of scrambling device that confuses GPS. When I used to live in Saudi Arabia, there was this section of one of the roads through the desert that always showed on the GPS as you being 50km further west than you really were. We never figured out whether that was an error in one of their satellites or a deliberate attempt to conceal something from everyone's GPS. But it's clearly not that hard to confuse a GPS.

Making a compass not work would be pointless, all it does is tell you which way north is. If you can't see out of the windows, you won't know what direction you're travelling in. Moving at constant velocity (speed and direction) feels like you're not moving at all if the flight is smooth enough (no turbulance at all) and if there is turbulence, that still doesn't tell you what direction you're moving in. Moving at a constant acceleration feels like gravity is coming from behind you rather than below you. If you can't see where you're going at all, you might think that you're travelling on an upwards trajectory when you're not.

They would feel changes in velocity (speed and/or direction) but they won't know how far or fast they're travelling bewteen each change in velocity, or what direction they're travelling in (if you were in a box on an aeroplane travelling at a constant velocity, you won't know if you're moving forwards, backwards, sideways etc. Knowing what direction is north won't help you at all.

Just having the passengers unable to see out would mean they can't use a map and compass to determine where they are, even if they do know where North is. So you'd just have to find some way to prevent them from using some kind of GPS device that tracks where they are, such as removing all such devices from them or having some kind of scrambling device to prevent them from working.

And they'd probably get travel sick, because being unable to see outside the vehicle you're travelling in means that any sudden turbulance or changes in velocity may induce nausea, due to confusion between what the eyes are seeing and what the balance centres in the ears are detecting.

If you don't believe me... consider how fast the earth is moving and why you feel like you're totally still... you and everything around you is moving at a constant velocity*. If the earth suddenly and radically changed velocity, you'd feel that.

*well not entirely but it's close enough to a straight path relative to our size for us not to feel any changes in velocity.

Bing Z
03-07-2015, 07:54 PM
A secret working version of Google driverless car or other self-driving cars?

Remote-controlled passenger drone? (Everyone knows the NSA has dozens of these ^_^)

With these, the subject doesn't even need to be conscious or be able to see anything. An escort with a pillowcase or a baseball bat or other cutting edge anesthetic means should work well.

03-07-2015, 11:14 PM
No matter how you imagine it, two facts will always be in play:

1. Someone (transporter) will know the route/destination.

2. A transported person, who knows nothing of the planned move and is denied sensory input (e.g., unconscious) in the process, will not know anything.

It may be oversimplified, but if you want it to work, this is the most pragmatic method. How your victim figures out where he/she is and mounts a potentially effective escape can follow - it all depends upon what your story needs.

Mr. Mask
03-08-2015, 05:21 AM
Thank you for the good responses, Mike, Bing, Neandermagnon. It has given me a clear idea of how to handle the situation. Thank you again.

Mike: If it were possible to safely induce unconsciousness among the passengers, I could use that. I was thinking putting the passengers to sleep with anaesthesia might be too risky.

If I presume they have an effective way of keeping the velocity constant, it may be unnecessary to put the passengers to sleep.

03-08-2015, 09:42 AM
If you're not sure about inducing unconsciousness, how about nausea? If your passengers are dizzy and vomiting, they won't really be able to track/care where they are.:D
Although, probably harder on the body than unconsciousness, if either go on for very long.

I favor the 2 pilot method: One pilot picks up the passengers in the plane (with the sealed windows) and flies them to some minor, no-name airstrip. There could be a major direction change at the airfield, under cover of landing/takeoff. (Or, an annoying series of take-offs/landings at various two-bit airfields, with a series of outsider pilots, who only fly a minor straight leg of the trip each.)

Second pilot, a person loyal to, and in the pay of, the secret base (who, in one of your plans would perhaps be controlling the autopilot/drone) flies the plane the rest of the way to the base.

Casey Karp
03-09-2015, 12:12 AM
And one additional thought: in my experience, most people, even those with excellent senses of direction, don't handle vertical changes of direction well. There's a tendency to confuse a climb or descent with a left/right motion. If your pilot throws some acrobatics--or even some swift changes of altitude combined with turns--very few people would have the faintest idea which way they were headed. Add in neander's advice about keeping speed constant when not maneuvering, and nobody deprived of electronic aids will know where the heck they are.

Note, though, that electronic aids should include watches if they have any way to look outside after they arrive at the hidden destination. If they've traveled any significant distance, the difference in sunrise/sunset time could give them a clue as to the rough distance they've traveled. Combined with local topography or climate, they could make a decent guess plus or minus a few hundred miles.