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Efficiency / Performance
I’ve seen the video of Shweeb in action and it looks like hard work – is it?
The video shows our prototype Shweeb in Rotorua, New Zealand, where it is used as a velodrome racetrack. Naturally, riders want to achieve the fastest speed they possibly can in an effort to beat their competitors and try to get their name on the record board. Riders have achieved speeds of over 50km/h on this tight track, but on a longer, straighter track they should be able to achieve 70km/h (that's faster than an Olympic cyclist!) The point is that the Shweeb is extremely efficient.
On firm, flat ground, a 70kg man requires about 100 watts to walk at 5km/h. The power required to move a Shweeb along a rail at 20km/h is only 33 watts. We rest our case!
It may be efficient, but is it practical?
효율적이질 몰라도, 현실성 있나?
What if I want to overtake?
만약 추월을 하고싶다면?
Firstly, let's assume we are talking about Shweeb in its capacity as a transport system: The pods are geared so that the maximum achievable speed is limited to about 25km/h. This is very easy pedalling (even for someone relatively out of shape), so we expect that a Shweeb transport system would maintain a constant speed.
But what if someone refuses to pedal or goes really slowly?
누군가 페달을 밟기를 거부한다거나 매우 느리게 간다면?
Impact-cushioning buffers at each end of the pods allow faster pods to run into slower pods and form a Shweeb ‘peloton’. This increases aerodynamic efficiency and, unlike a bicycle peloton, the power produced by those behind can contribute to the overall power of the group, thereby increasing speed and efficiency and removing the need to overtake. Should the rider in front refuse to pedal, the extra effort required by the rider(s) behind is minimal due to the low rolling resistance and single aero-pressure point of the peloton.
What if I don’t want to be pushed to go faster?
만약 내가 빠르게 가지 않기를 원한다면?
Where Shweeb is used as a scenic ride, there may be times where a rider would like to stop or slow down to admire the view and will not want to be moved on by the rider behind. In such an environment, viewing platforms (rather like roadside lay-bys) may be incorporated into the track design.
What if the track doesn’t go where I want to go?
내가 원하는 트랙으로 갔을 경우는?
As transport, Shweeb would be a complementary system alongside trains, subways, cars, bikes, buses etc. We would expect the networks to continue expanding over time. This is a normal evolution of a system. Even the London Underground began in this way; in the 1860s it was just a simple east – west link!
What about going uphill?
언덕은 어떻게 올라가나?
The prototype Shweeb in Rotorua has short ascents of 1:20 which are easily managed when approached at a cruising speed. To make sure all riders get to the top quickly, an electric powered escalator is ready to kick in and lift riders to the top of an incline. The external power will only be activated if sensors indicate that the rider is slowing down.
What kind of capacity can a Shweeb system handle?
A Shweeb track can handle high capacity due to two key factors: Firstly, stations are off-line meaning that, when someone wants to stop, they can switch off the main line and go into a station without affecting anyone else. As such the mainline is always moving at the desired speed. Secondly, unlike road transport, Shweeb pods require no stopping distance between them so can travel back to back. In theory, a single rail could move 10,000 people through a 1m2 airspace.
But obviously capacity is restricted by station throughput. Where maximum capacity is required, pods will be released from a station in groups (or 'pelotons'). A station can have any number of embarkation pods awaiting riders, depending on the length (and number of) platform(s). Given that it takes about 30 seconds for someone to board a Shweeb, a station with one platform of 10 pod lengths could release 10 pods every 30 seconds. This equates to 1,200 per hour on a single line going in one direction.
Is the Shweeb safe? 안전한가요?
Yes, so safe that you can even talk on your mobile phone, write text messages, email on your blackberry, or read the paper while you pedal!
What if someone stops pedalling and the pod behind slams into them?
All Shweebs have 600mm buffers (shock absorbers) protruding forwards and backwards, This creates a 1.2m buffer zone so that the momentum of a fast moving rider colliding into a slow moving or stationary rider is gently converted into forward motion. The recumbent position aligns the body along the force axis, so there is no jarring or whiplash.
What if someone has medical emergency while in a pod, mid-track?
운행 도중에 누군가 응급상황이 발생하면?
The system is monitored by controllers. Any pod that decelerates to a stop will be identified and programmed to divert to the next station. Firstly any pods coming up behind will push it to the nearest station. Failing that a staff member will be deployed to pick up the pod and take it to the nearest station. A first aider will always be on site.
What if a pod breaks down / gets stuck somewhere along the rail?
To date, this has never happened - Shweeb pods seem to be indestructible! However, if a pod were to stop moving, electronic sensors would alert the station staff to problems. Either the pod could be collected by another pod and pushed to the next station, or - if really jammed - the pod would be accessed by a technician from below via a portable scaffold.
Can the pods derail?
Derailment is not possible with this kind of overhead conveyor. The wheels are locked inside an enclosed track.
User Experience / Comfort
What's the Shweeb like to ride?
Is it comfortable?
Yes! The fully adjustable seat is reclined at 20 degrees. This spreads the rider's weight over a large area, takes pressure off the spine and is as comfortable as a deck chair. It also reduces any risk of vertigo anxiety as the rider has no balance issues and feels well supported. Light padding on the seat provides extra comfort whilst providing a firm platform to push back against the seat when pedalling.
Doesn't it get hot and sweaty in the pod?
Ventilation holes and a sun reflecting roof help to keep temperatures moderate inside the pod. Riding a Shweeb at 20km/h requires less energy than walking at an average pace, so there is no reason why one would work up a sweat.
How do you keep the pods clean?
Pods are aired and disinfected after each ride. Wipe-clean surfaces and excellent ventilation keep the pods hygienic and easy to maintain.
What if I want to travel with someone else?
We are developing 2-seater pods where a passenger sits behind the rider. This is particularly useful for carrying children or disabled people. Equally, groups can travel together in a train of pods, and an intercom system could enable communication between them.
Don't you think people wearing skirts or kilts might be concerned about privacy / dignity?
We would suggest wearing shorts or trousers for most comfort and peace of mind! In future, pods may have one-way tinted windows so one can see out but not in - this would address the issue directly.
Who can ride a Shweeb?
Can disabled people ride it?
There are a few options for people who are unable to pedal themselves:
i. Sit in a standard pod and be escorted along the track by a pod behind.
ii. Sit as a passenger in a 2-seater pod.
iii. Shweeb can design hand-powered and/or electric-assisted (or fully powered) pods.
We have also had a number of blind people ride the Shweeb in Rotorua. The Shweeb offers them the unique opportunity to take control of and power a vehicle themselves.
How do unfit or overweight people manage?
If you can walk, you can Shweeb! There is no weight limit to ride a Shweeb. Anyone who can fit in a train, aeroplane or bus seat will be able to fit in a Shweeb pod.
How do you manage people of totally different heights using the pods one after the other?
The seats quickly adjust to take riders between 1.2m and 2.2m. An easy seat slide mechanism sets the seat at the perfect length for each rider.