Remember the Shweeb? I’ll refresh your memory, then. Shweeb is an alternative form of transportation, one that is controlled by you and your legs and feet. It’s the world’s first human-powered monorail racetrack. Users are secured inside transparent pods and can travel at speeds of up to 45km/hr. As crazy as it looks and sounds, Google clearly imagines a future with Shweeb in it. This week the search engine (among many other things) invested $1.05 million into the “adrenalin-fueled” adventure. The only Shweeb transportation in existance resides in at an amusement park in New Zealand and it’s been a hit with tourists since its launch in 2007. Google managed to stumble upon the Shweeb thanks to the big G’s Project 10 to the 100, an initiative “to change the world, in the hope of helping as many people as possible.” The initiative received over over 150,000 applicants from 170 countries, and Shweeb landed in the top five after a public voting of the most promising ideas for the future. It was named the #1 in the Drive innovation in public transport category. So what does Shweeb plan on doing with the money? “The northern hemisphere became the natural choicefor us due to the sheer number of people that require transport and also the opportunity to achieve a higher global profile for the future growth of the company,” says managing director Peter Cossey. I just think Google wants a new attraction at their unconventional Googleplex HQ.
JDS Architects have come up with a wild n’ wacky idea to fill up the void at the Guggenheim Museum, that is, the wide open space inside the building. JDS invites you to “experience the void” by bouncing your way from the top to the bottom of the museum via a trampoline net. Design Boom points out that “this idea plays on Frank Lloyd Wright’s original scenography for the Guggenheim in which he envisioned patrons visiting the exhibition from the top, downwards.” Problem is, this method of transportation in the building would likely result in one too many tragic body traumas. Take a deep breath, it’s only a concept; and due to such safety concerns, it will likely remain just that. But it’s a fun idea, is it not?
If you are at all interested in this Personal Mobility Device, read on for the details, straight from Honda.
“Honda has developed a new personal mobility technology, U3-X. It is a compact experimental device that fits comfortably between the riders legs, to provide free movement in all directions just as in human walking forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally. Honda will continue research and development of the device including experiments in a real-world environment to verify the practicality of the device.
This new personal mobility device makes it possible to adjust speed and move, turn and stop in all directions when the rider leans the upper body to shift body weight. This was achieved through application of advanced technologies including Hondas balance control technology, which was developed through the robotics research of ASIMO, Hondas bipedal humanoid robot, and the worlds first* omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System, or HOT Drive System), which enables movement in all directions, including not only forward and backward, but also directly to the right and left and diagonally. In addition, this compact size and one-wheel-drive personal mobility device was designed to be friendly to the user and people around it by making it easier for the rider to reach the ground from the footrest and placing the rider on roughly the same eye level as other people or pedestrians.”
The ULTra (Urban Light Transit) Personal Pod “is an electric, battery-powered, 100-mpg-equivalent, elevate PRT (personal rapid transit) system.” They are fully automated, so there is non need for a driver. They drive around at up to 25 mph and can hold between 4-5 passengers at a time. They run on a “special road network” that can be build near airports, office buildings, and universities. The Pod itself has a very modern look and feel; it reminds me of the transportation pods used in “Minority Report.” This may be the closest we ever get to an actual “flying car” (or a transportation medium that happens above on-ground traffic). With the price of gas still fluctuating and the dependency on foreign fuel still an issue in the US, this new transportation system may be the key to a brighter future. OK, that sounded like a creepy infomercial, but still! The best news is that the first implementation of the system is scheduled to start later this year at the London Heathrow Airport. Check out the video above to learn more about the Pod, and see the gallery below for some shots of what the futuristic and stylish system will look like if implementated in the real world.
This is the Shweeb, the world’s first human-powered monorail racetrack. Each capsule holds one rider who has to pedal his or her way to her destination. Apparently it can get you from Point A to Point B much faster than a bike. The seats adjust to your exact height and they level of comfort compares to that of a hammock. For now, you can only find the Shweeb in an amusement park in New Zealand. Who knows where this new means of transportation may find a home in the future. Check out a video of this thing in action after the break.
According to the company website: “Our proposal to get you safely and quickly from one point in the city to another would be to elevate you onto a network of interconnected monorails where you never have to stop at traffic lights. The ideal vehicle for such a system already exists. Fully faired recumbent cycles, because of their low aerodynamic resistance, are breaking all bicycle speed records and currently reaching speeds of 90 kph (56 mph) in sprints. Suspending these comfortable and highly efficient machines from monorail tracks has the added advantage of taking away the rolling resistance of pneumatic tyres. Trains of Shweebs can further reduce the aero drag C ten people travelling at 40 kph will each have a lot less work to do than a single rider at the same speed. A single rider requires only a fraction of the energy to achieve the same speed as a normal cyclist C thanks to the significant reductions in both aero drag and tire friction. The vehicle is completely weatherproof, you can’t derail or fall out while on the cellphone or Blackberry.”