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pulley car transport

a modification of the Schweeb
  (+3, -2)
(+3, -2)
  [vote for,

Google recently announced the winners of Project 10^100. One of the winners was the Schweeb, which received $1 million. Schweeb are human powered pods which run on a monorail.

I think something like the Schweeb might be useful in very congested and poorly planned cities. I think there are a few problems with the Schweeb and I've got a few suggestions to improve it.

Firstly, I don't understand the human power aspect. Once you've got the pods on a rail, it's easy to supply them with electricity to run electric motors.

Secondly, the rigidity of the rails seems overkill. If you allow a bit of flex in the rails (i.e cables) you can use less material and have less (i.e. further spaced) supporting structures.

Thirdly, I don't know how the pods switch tracks, so I've suggested a switching mechanism.

The following will only make sense in light of the illustrations, so look at them before reading on.

Basically, my idea is to have the pods running on two parallel cables. When the cables get to a switching point, the cables diverge. The pod then lifts one of the sets of wheels above one of the cables, so the pod is fully supported by the other set of wheels on the other cable. The pod travels on a single cable briefly and then gets back onto a pair of cables.

The switching is supposed to be fail-safe so that even if one set of wheels is not lifted above the cable, the pod should still stay on one of the cables.

In the illustrations, the pod (yellow) hangs from a pair of parallel cables (orange) via a pair wheel sets (pink). Each wheel set is driven by a 1 kW motor (red) through a chain (grey). Each wheel set can be raised and lowered above the cable independently by a linear actuator (e.g. hydraulic lift).

xaviergisz, Sep 28 2010

illustrations http://imgur.com/a/UO7oe
[xaviergisz, Sep 28 2010, last modified Dec 11 2011]

Schweeb - It's better than you think. http://www.shweeb.com/
[MisterQED, Sep 29 2010]


       I like the switching mechanism. Switching is what kept me from going ahead with my idea like this.   

       Human power is kind of ridiculous these days. Our food is grown with so much petroleum--fertilizer, tractors and transport--that eating an extra bagel to be able to bike to work is almost counterproductive. Arriving hot and sweaty, needing a shower and a laundry just makes it worse.   

       And unless the a human-powered system has a lot of switches, the slowest human-powered pod is going to hold up everyone else <something about Lance Armstrong, your grandma, and banging from behind>.   

       So, yes, motors are good.   

       I do not like the cables, though. Swooping up and down a catenary that is going side-to-side in the breeze is a bit much for a morning commute.   

       But they are simple. And I like the switching. [+]
baconbrain, Sep 28 2010

       I think most of the Western world just eats the extra bagel anyway, [baconbrain]
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 28 2010

       With lox and cream cheese, and just a shaving of onion for me, please.
baconbrain, Sep 28 2010

       //Human power is kind of ridiculous these days// Well, but maybe not from a public health standpoint.
mouseposture, Sep 28 2010

       In a purely carnivourous diet, it's better to drive than walk. With any other diet it's better to walk. Cycling is always more efficient than driving in gallons of gasoline equivalent.   

       Not sure about the idea, but rigid rail to rigid wheel contact is about the most effecient in existence. Flexible cables are going yo lose you some.
MechE, Sep 29 2010

       Bone for schweeb, Bone for google for giving schweeb a Bun. Bun for xav for identifying some of schweeb's issues but Bone for not just giving it a bone outright. Bun for the neat drawings and switching mech. So a bun.   

       But a bone for schweeb. Did I already say that? Crikey, I'm not one to be caught in tight shorts often but surely the fully baked B I C Y C L E idea is actually waaaay better than schweeb? What a load of rubbish- you can't overtake, you get hot and sweaty, a crick in your neck... can you imagine the schweeb-rage when the Lance-Armstrong / Granny issue comes up. It seriously reminds me of my 10th grade science project we threw together in an evening...
jamobaker, Sep 29 2010

       Bun for Schweeb, bone for this idea. Schweebs in a pack should be able to travel at 15mph with very little effort from the riders because they limit BOTH rolling resistance and aerodynamic resistance. They would be able to travel much faster if they were geared right and they weren't so worried about safety.   

       This idea tries to substitute cables which would drop the maximum speed to a crawl as anyone who has gone up a ski lift can attest. If you went at any decent speed, it would be a seasickening event as you rose up to the tower and then dropped down at the far side.   

       As for the idea that human energy is more expensive than chemical energy is complete BS. I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the US we ALL eat too much and getting everyone to exercise even the tiny amount this would need is one of the many benefits, not a downside.   

       And as for the "Lance-Armstrong / Granny" issue, there isn't one. As Lance comes up from behind, he would start to push Granny up to the highest gear he had. You'd basically make a tandem. The biggest complaint from Lance was the piss poor maximum speed due to lack of gears. Lance would get out in the open and top out at 20mph when with good gears he could have done 60.
MisterQED, Sep 29 2010

       //Schweeb - It's better than you think.// Not hard. What a dire proposal. Can someone explain to me how a bicycle is worse than this? Thanks.
pocmloc, Sep 29 2010

       //Can someone explain to me how a bicycle is worse than this? // Five reasons: aerodynamics, comfort, environmental isolation, lower rolling resistance and safety. Aerodynamics are a little better than an enclosed recumbent bicycle and thus WAY better than a normal bicycle. The improvement comes from removing the ground effect. The comfort is equivalent to a recumbent, thus way better than a bike due to the full seat and reclined position. Environmental isolation is obvious, as this will work in rain, ice, snow, fog, etc. In this way it is better than a recumbent or a bike as ice will stop any bike use, fog, snow or rain will even stop most daring riders. Remember, you don't have to steer, so low visibility in not a real impairment as it definitely is on a bike. Lower rolling resistance due to hard rollers on metal rails will have less than even high pressure racing tires, and never get flats. Safety due to riding outside the range of cars influence and the a fore mentioned lack of need for visibility due to lack of steering. Also the only object you can hit, being another Schweeb, is separated from you by a four foot compressible bumper and it has to be going in the same direction as you and traveling between 0 and 15 mph.
MisterQED, Sep 29 2010

       ... and you can read while riding it.
mouseposture, Sep 29 2010

       Yes I have studded tyres on my bike here in Scotland for frosty winters. Thanks [MrQED] for your list. I think that sitting under an upturned tub has most of those benefits as well, and is hardly any less practical for transportation than the ridiculous referenced non-idea.
pocmloc, Sep 30 2010

       //The first half of that statement is flat out not true. Do a Google search on ice biking. I've biked through the winter here in Spokane, Washington, USA myself. They do make studded snow tires for bicycles, you know.// Actually I didn't, but it begs two questions: one, what is the rolling resistance like? and two what happens when you ride on them over slate sidewalks or other hard smooth surfaces?   

       I will admit I overstated, but the point was to highlight the advantages of the Schweeb, which allows for high efficiency riding in all kinds of weather. In that point I believe it was accurate. You can spec out a bike that will ride in any weather. You can get a dry suit and stay warm and dry on that bike, but Schweeb will get you there better and safer.
MisterQED, Sep 30 2010

       //Schweeb will get you there better and safer.//   

       Of those two, I think you have a good argument for the safer part. 'Better' is like a political argument.
Boomershine, Oct 02 2010

       //...winter in snowy/icy locales is actually safer for cycling than any other time of year.//   

       Could be true, [21], but isn't the comparison here between bikes and the PCT? It's hard to see how any bike on the street could be safer than a pod suspended from a cable above traffic.
Boomershine, Oct 02 2010

       Good points [21]. My only argument was the safety part. As much fun as racing along a suspended cable in a pod sounds, if we're going to be serious about this (never know around here), I have to agree with you: it's impractical and cumbersome.
Boomershine, Oct 03 2010


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