Aerodynamics and EfficiencyThere are two ways a vehicle can attain speed. One is to fit the vehicle with a bigger engine to burn more fuel. The other is to reduce the resistances acting against the vehicle. The Shweeb proves that by intelligently removing resistances, the energy required to move a vehicle becomes very small. So small in fact that it becomes possible to dispense with the mechanical engine and utilise the organic engine that the human passenger already carries - muscle power.
The three main resistances acting against any moving vehicle are aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance, and transmission losses. At high speeds, aerodynamic drag is by far the greatest. Around 80% of a cyclist’s energy is used to overcome wind resistance. By placing the rider feet forward, recumbent cycles halve the amount of wind resistance. Adding a fairing allows it to slip through the air even more cleanly. All world cycling records are held by fully-faired recumbent cycles, which have been ridden at speeds over 90kph (56mph).
Furthermore, by running hard wheels on hard rail, the Shweeb greatly reduces rolling resistance. Its specialised transmission system transfers power from the pedal to the rail with minimal friction losses. The Shweeb requires less energy to cover a given distance than any other vehicle on earth. On top of this, Shweebs travelling in trains are even more efficient. The leading pod pushes the air out of the way, allowing the following riders to combine their strength and push the leading rider forward at a speed beyond that which any rider could manage individually. The single high pressure zone at the front is effectively shared over the total number of riders in the train.
Towers and Spans
On a typical day, you would get up in the morning and descend to the second level of your residential tower, where there is a Shweeb station and ample pods waiting for you. You would get into the capsule, park you luggage and hang up your jacket. You’d then ride to work at a leisurely pace over the top of the traffic jams – not even raising a sweat. You wouldn’t have to worry about finding a car park space or paying for parking. You’d arrive at work feeling fit, healthy and ready to go!
Stations and Stocking
Buffers and Trains
Shock absorbers protruding from the front and the back of each vehicle supply a 1200mm (4ft) buffer zone between vehicles. This allows vehicles to come together at speed differences between 0-30kph (19mph) without harsh jolting. Shweeb transit pods are geared to move at 5 – 25kph (3 – 16mph).
ElevationNot all cities are flat. In locations where a Shweeb rail has to make a substantial climb upwards, a conveyor chain under the rail would lift the pods up the hill. This could be powered by solar panels on top of the rails and activated only when pods are travelling too slowly to clear the rise with their own momentum. Shweebs travelling faster than the speed of the chain would fly over it without being slowed.
This is more an energy storage system than a station. It converts kinetic energy (forward motion) into potential energy by ramping the incoming pods up two meters (6ft) into the platform area so that they come to a natural stop. A back up escalator (see ‘Elevation’ section above) assists riders who have slowed. Disembarking riders roll down into the mainline - thereby getting a gravity kick start. Each rider is effectively passing on the energy required to start a Shweeb to the next rider, so the only power requirement is that of maintaining the momentum.
Off line Station
Bridges and Suspension Spans
Last century the human body was viewed as a piece of cargo that had to be carted, immobile, to its destination. This view is quickly changing. A sedentary lifestyle is now understood to engender a host of problems (obesity, heart disease, etc). Opportunities to exercise are harder to attain, leisure time is shrinking, and open space is diminishing. Thus the Shweeb adds value to your commute by giving you mobility and fitness simultaneously.
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