What Is a Shweeb and Why Did Google Invest US$ 1 Million in It?

“I’ve got it! Here’s an idea for an urban transport system that’s even dumber than a Segway.”

Here is more about the Shweeb, a human-powered monorail intended to “create a solution which provided the user with the same flexibility and comfort offered by the car but without the consequential costs - both direct financial and indirect health and environmental costs.”

In 2010, Google invested US$ 1 million in the concept, prompting CNN to ask, “Why did Google bet $1 million on Shweeb?” Well, it was part of a project to “drive innovation in public transportation”, you see.

Shweeb’s innovative approach toward low-cost and environmentally friendly urban transport has the potential for significant impact in the future.

Right. Maybe they needed a better pitchman.


So add an electric assist and charge fat lazy people based upon the amount of electricity required to bring them up to the desired speed. Also, pro cyclists could use it to train. The motor in their pod would act as a generator, sending some energy back into the system and earning them credit.


The Shweeb solution to the slow rider problem and the inability to overtake.

For example, many people have expressed concern about slow riders holding up traffic on the monorail, where there’s nowhere to pass. Barnett says there would be no need to pass, however, because shock absorbers would allow the pods to stack together and let the faster people “push” the slow rider in front.

“The Shweebs behind the front one can push it along so the front one is taking the wind resistance but all the ones behind her are basically extra engines to counter that wind resistance,” he said. “They’ll act as a team. Everyone will just go up to a higher gear, and they’ll all pedal together and all their energies will be combined.”

I don’t think I’ve seen such a literal implementation of the free rider problem.

Icebreakers use a similar scheme to cope with very thick ice.



Do Shweebs pick their own gender?


Inventor is kicking himself regarding the dweeb-worthy name.

If only he called his creation the X-RAIL and secured government buy in – he coulda been the world’s richest man !!!


It puts people in pods and runs them around a loop where pods cannot pass one another and people can only get on and off at stations. So, why not Bikerloop?