What is a Shweeb? Why has Google Invested USD1M in Shweebing?

Velocity Valley Shweeb  racers MB
What is a Shweeb?

New Zealand is famous for a multitude of adrenalin-packed crazy activities like bungee-jumping and Zorbing and the Shweeb is the latest creation which has attracted 40,000 riders since October 2007. The Shweeb, derived from the German word schweben, which means to float or suspend, is a pedal-powered glass pod suspended from a monorail.

Climb into your Shweeb, and pedal like crazy to race against friends around the 200m-long purpose-built monorail track in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Things to Do in New Zealand – Shweebing!

Shweeb. Image by inhabitat.com

Shweebing can be enjoyed either solo or in tandem by attaching two pods together. Participants have to be at least 1.1m tall and you can either race against the clock or another opponent. The current record for 3 laps of the 200m track is 55 seconds and once tried, shweebing becomes quite addictive.

Once installed in the pod in a recumbent position, you can reach speeds of up to 50 km/h and the faster you cycle, the more the pod swings around the corners of the track, adding to the excitement. You can enjoy it in bad weather as the pod keeps the rain out and if it’s too sunny, you are protected from the heat by the pod’s metal roof.

Who Invented the Shweeb?

Shweeb drawing
The Shweeb was invented by Australian Geoffrey Barnet. Image by en.wikipedia.org

The Shweeb was invented by Australian Geoffrey Barnet, an avid cyclist who worked as an English teacher in Japan. Frustrated by the near total traffic immobility in Japan’s capital Tokyo, he dreamed of cycling over the top of it and returned home to work on the Shweeb which took six years of design and testing before finally building the prototype monorail in Rotorua.

Google Invests in Shweeb to Drive Innovation in Public Transportation

Google invested $US 1 Million in Shweeb Holdings Limited as part of an initiative to find world-changing ideas. Image by nationalpost.com

Barnet’s vision is to see Shweebing as an innovative form of public transport and in September 2010, Google invested $US 1 Million in Shweeb Holdings Limited as part of an initiative to find world-changing ideas. The Shweeb was chosen as the winning company in the “Drive Innovation in Public Transportation” category.

The company has been busy working on using the investment money to build a showcase transit system in a highly built-up area in the Northern Hemisphere. An announcement will hopefully soon be made as to the location of the test system and Barnet’s vision of an overhead pedal-powered transport system to ride in the clouds will become reality.

Pedal-Powered Pods

Whether you ride in one of these innovative pedal-powered pods as a fun activity in New Zealand or you are lucky enough to ride one in the soon-to-be-announced showcase transit system, Shweebing is both fun and innovative and could one day be a healthy green transport solution for our over-crowded cities.



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