Human-powered transport is up my alley. And I have to say that I’m a Google fan. So, when I found out about Google investing in human-powered monorail a couple days ago, my back straightened up, my eyes widened, and my heart started beating faster.
Google has reportedly invested $1 million in a New Zealand company that has invented a super-cool, human-powered monorail system — basically, recumbent bicycles in little plastic bubbles on high rails (at least that’s what they look like to me).
We know that Google is interested in advancing renewable energy such as solar and wind energy, and there’s even speculation of it opening up an electric utility arm at some point in the future, but it also seems to realize that there is a future in creative, effective human-powered systems as well — I guess human energy could be considered renewable energy.
Shweeb is what this human-powered monorail system is called, coming from the German word “schweben” which means to “float” or “suspend” — (yes, New Zealand company, but German inventor). The inventor, Geoff Barnett, says he came up with the idea for this baby living and teaching about transportation in Tokyo:
When I lived in Tokyo I cycled through the city to work and on the weekends rode up the mountains around the city. Tokyo, with its frequent and punctual trains, capsule hotels, high population densities, and vending machines, opened my mind to new possibilities. I came up with the idea of a bicycle monorail network while teaching a class in which the topic for discussion was transport solutions. The idea of riding above the traffic jams on multi-level rails seemed to me the only possible way that Tokyo’s millions of residents could move around the city quickly and safely. It had the added advantages of being environmentally friendly and offering an aerobic workout.
To me this was a project that I could, if I put my mind to it, make happen.
Looks like a great idea. And apparently Google thought so as well.
The photos above are from a sort of theme park in Rotorua, New Zealand, but Shweeb monorails have a lot of potential for use elsewhere, especially when you take into consideration the fact that people can go up to 45 kilometers (about 28 miles) per hour in them.
Google’s investment will allow for the installation of the first public Shweeb monorail system, but the location is apparently still a secret… (crossing my fingers for my current city — Wrocław, Poland… unlikely).
via Crisp Green
Photos & Video via Shweeb
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.