The Shweeb human-powered monorail
The Shweeb is a monorail for human-powered vehicles. It consists of two 200metre long overhead rail circuits that vary in height between two and four meters above the ground. Under the tracks hang high performance pedal powered vehicles. Between one and five vehicles can be loaded onto each track enabling teams to race each other or race against the clock. Conceived in Tokyo by designer Geoffrey Barnett, the adventure park ride he built in New Zealand is partially a proof-of-concept for an ingenious, high efficiency, no emission urban transport system. The Shweeb Race thru Space adventure park ride is part of the Agroventures all weather adventure centre within the grounds of the world famous Agrodome near Rotorua in New Zealand. Other
adventures available alongside the Shweeb include the Swoop and the 43metre-high Rotorua Bungy. Given the levels of adrenalin involved in that lot, the human-powered Shweeb surprisingly holds its own. As the bikes run on low-resistance tracks and the pods are far more aerodynamically efficient than a bicycle, with less frontal area (the rider is recumbent), most riders can see speeds of 45 kmh and on a longer circuit with a much longer straight, much higher speeds can be expected. Whatsmore, in corners, the pods swing out as much as 60 degrees on tight turns, but unlike a bike or motorcycle, there is no danger of losing traction and crashing. Those who have tried it report exceptional fun. Recently, fully-faired recumbent. However, recumbent bicycles are unstable, highly-susceptible to side-winds topple and their low profile makes them a dangerous proposition to use in traffic due to their low visibility. Barnett has spent six years developing how to efficiently transfer pedal power to drive wheels enclosed within a monorail track while allowing the vehicle to swing freely underneath. The hard wheels on the steel rail mean that there is very little rolling resistance. Barnett
describes his high efficiency, no emission urban transport system thus: “Here’s how it worksHow It Works . You get up in the morning; descend to the second level of your apartment building where there’s a Shweeb port and empty Shweebs waiting for you. You cruise over the top of the traffic jams. You don’t pay parking. You’ve produced no pollution. You arrive at work fit, healthy and ready to go. “You don’t own the Shweeb. You use it like a shopping cart. Empty vehicles are restocked to wherever they are needed. When a fit rider comes up behind a slower rider, the impact is cushioned and they act as a single unit. Two Shweebs acting together will always travel faster than either rider separately. Even if the lead rider were to stop pedalling, the energy required to maintain a vehicle’s momentum on a flat track is minimal. “Stations are off line. Anyone wanted to get off just merges off the main rail and the platoon continues at top speed. “The urban Shweebrail network is inexpensive, has a tiny footprint, and each Shweebway requires only a square metre of airspace…It’s safe, silent and sustainable.” Shweeb technology; The Shweeb is a direct response to the transportation needs of today and the future. The
world’s populations are increasingly migrating to huge cities, and the densities within our cities are steadily climbing as residential towers become the dominant mode of residence. Traffic is slowing to walking pace, there is little parking and there is significant and ever-increasing pollution of the air we breathe. Of note, the average speed of a motor vehicle in central London in 1908 was 8 mph. In 2008 it was still 8 mph. Any attempt to resuscitate the automobile by devising a new fuel or engine is doomed. Our cities simply can’t cope with rising numbers of cars or parking spaces. In our opinion a fresh approach is required. 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 – 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 – 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! The result is the most efficient vehicle on earth, the most inexpensive infrastructure of any proposed urban transit and one of the highest capacity systems available – delivering 20,000+ people per hour in a 1×1 m2 airspace. All this with zero carbon omissions and no parking worries or cost! The Shweeb Research and Development team, headed by Geoffrey Barnett has spent six years designing this system. The Rotorua launch has proven the safety and efficiency of the technology. More and more of our riders are getting excited about the idea of getting up in the morning and Shweebing to work! news from ecoagile.com
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