Fleets of battery-powered robots could zip along monorails installed in solar arrays, tweaking individual panels’ angles so they follow the sun across the sky. This could be cheaper than installing actuators on every solar panel so they track the sun, according to a new robotics startup. Robots can make everything easier!
Nothing makes you wish for a high-speed rail, a flying car, or a teleportation device like having to travel over Thanksgiving. Apparently, the future of chaos-free commuting is in Europe, Japan and China, where passengers enjoy the luxury of trains that glide along at 200 miles per hour. Meanwhile, those of us living in America get to choose between radioactive scanners, enhanced pat-downs, and the joy of holiday highway congestion. Injustice! Suffice to say, our maglev train envy is making the spirit of Thanksgiving a little harder to grasp this year.
Shweeb first surfaced last summer as a gimmicky but eye-catching tourist attraction. It's a monorail system in which the "cars" are clear plastic pedal-powered bubbles, hanging under the monorail. The cars, equipped with seven gears, supposedly travel very quickly, nearing 30 mph over short distances, as tracked on a 218-yard test track built at the company's New Zealand headquarters.
The Shweeb is a human-powered monorail system that makes use of a series of pedal-pods suspended by a metal rail. Easy to operate, Shweeb cars can move up to 25 mph, reportedly without excessive effort.
The Shweeb is still a standalone gimmick/prototype of sorts that sits on company grounds in New Zealand. But they see their contraption as something that would fit perfectly in natural parks for guided tours, or even adventure tourism destinations, where it could be used for racing games.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.