Is There A Future in Civil/Structural Shweebeneering?

July 29, 2009 at 4:00 am 8 comments

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

Wooooo Hooooo! Let's Shweeb!

Wooooo Hooooo! Let's Shweeb!

Well, you can thank this week’s blog to my new hobby of “tweeting.”  One of the other professionals that I follow made a “tweet” that led to a way cool website whose idea is worth mentioning.  The future of this “pod in the sky”  is likely “pie in the sky,” but it makes one wonder what the future of transportation could look like.

Pollution, carbon emissions, global warming, traffic congestion, green cars…these are all the industry headlines that plaster the Internet and your favorite trade publications every week.  Well, a group of engineers and designers in New Zealand have created a mode of transportation that eliminates nearly all of the environmental concerns that are under such scrutiny today.  No, it’s not a magic carpet ( how sweet would that be?).  And it’s more primitive and environmentally efficient than SkyTran.  Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce to you…


The world’s first human powered monorail, The Shweeb is “the most efficient vehicle on earth, the most inexpensive infrastructure of any proposed urban transit and one of the highest capacity systems available – potentially delivering thousand’s of people per hour in a very small airspace. All this with zero carbon emissions and no parking worries or cost!”

Six years in the making, entrepreneur and design team leader Geoffrey Barnett finally constructed The Shweeb in 2007 ” in direct response to the transportation needs of today and the future.”   As of today, The Shweeb concept is Shweeb3 nothing more than a ride at an adventure park in New Zealand.  But  Barnett and his team are convinced that The Shweeb is the way of the  future.  This is definitely a very cool concept that on the surface would solve many of  the traffic and congestion and environmental pollution problems that  we face today.  It would also be an emerging engineering concept that possibly would challenge and excite transportation engineers of all types.

Environmentally speaking, this is a great idea, but Clearly Geoffrey and his team have their work cut out for them as they continue to push this concept of a human powered monorail system.  Personally speaking, I am skeptical at best. The “pod” itself that one drives in has little to be desired in the way of comfort and the issues are infinite- what happens if the chain or the pedals break – would Triple A (AAA) show up?  How would one travel with family or clients?  And what about ventilation? Plus, I have no desire to show up for work or a lunch meeting as a soaking wet sweat ball!  We would need Xzibit and the crew from the MTV show Pimp My Ride to develop some nice custom Shweeb vehicles to better suit our needs 🙂 !

Check out The Shweeb in action:

I read on, “Well, thank your lucky stars that the people who run our cities have at least some sense in their heads, because it would be highly doubtful for this to appear in the flesh anytime soon.”

Do you believe this engineering concept will ever come to fruition in any way, shape or form as an alternative form of transportation within our urban communities? Or is it merely a pipe dream that will never get beyond the gates of a Six Flags amusement park?

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Entry filed under: Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Issues, Environmental Engineering issues, Environmental Issues, Failing US Infrastructure, Fun Stuff, Highway Engineering, Uncategorized, US Infrastructure. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sustainable Highways, Transportation & GREENROADS? «  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

    […] need for sustainable transportation in the US. Whether we discussed transit, high speed rail, the SCHWEEB or SkyTran, we are fascinated with the concept of finding a way to be better to our planet while […]

  • 2. Greg  |  March 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Awesome concept!

  • 3. aepcentral  |  October 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Just read an article on that Google has recently invested $1M in R&D in this concept :

  • 4. W Paul  |  July 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

    While it is certainly a green way to travel from pt. A to Pt.B, it looks like we better be in shape before one ventures out in these pods. Certainly will improve health quality too. May require a bit of memory to know when to switch lanes or you may end up circling the globe.

  • 5. Stephanie Moore-Fuller  |  December 7, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Wow, that’s certainly an interesting concept!! Personally, however, it makes me feel claustrophobic just to *watch* the video.

    I think one of the biggest roadblocks to getting this actually being used is the infrastructure required. Yes, it’s true that once upon a time there were no paved roads either. But the thing is that paved roads developed, in an incremental and piecemeal fashion, from dirt roads, which developed from simple trails. I think it is a much bigger challenge to create an infrastructure totally from scratch, and have it be adopted.

    • 6. aepcentral  |  December 7, 2009 at 10:36 pm

      Thanks for your comments Stephanie! I wonder if this is something that might be more practical for a university or large business campus?

  • 7. robert mote  |  August 18, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I like the idea in that it is an idea that has merits. Transportation strategies could benefit from this. This can be another line of attck. Personal comfort will be resolved in time.

    Ideal for university campus environment.

    A key plus is that it would be quick to erect, re-route, manage. Chain breakages, vandalism and spicy lunches will always be a risk!

    I give it a thumbs up and a good chance of being adopted in the future. Have you ever ridden in an autorickshaw in Mumbai traffic? Nothing could be crazier!

    • 8. aepcentral  |  August 18, 2009 at 10:09 pm


      Good point…this could definitely be a good form of transportation in a campus environment…and it would only be a matter of time before Mercedes & BMW & Jaguar would begin manufacturing luxury Shweebs!



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