Google is to provide funding for a number of new projects, including a human-powered monorail pod project, which looks like something out of Futurama.
A New Zealand company called Shweeb has developed an interesting solution to traffic congestion and travel with a monorail system with attached plastic pods which people move along the track by pedalling.
The intriguing project is in its early stages, but already Shweeb has developed a working prototype, which sees numerous people cycle around in the pods at low heights. Plans showcase it among skyscrapers for public transport and through caves and forests for tourism and attractions.
It's not quite as good as being sucked into a tube and spat out on the other side of town like our good friends Fry and Leela are used to, but it's definitely a step in that direction. It could also be employed as a recreational thing, as the pedalling will be sure to keep us pretty fit. The problem for transport, however, is when someone gets tired and holds up the entire line until they get some energy back – but then it's probably more of a Shelbyville idea.
Schweed is one of five companies who won $1 million as part of Google's Project 10^100, which called for companies to submit their futuristic ideas to Google with the reward of substantial investment.
The other companies who won are working on things that are not quite as futuristic, but are nevertheless useful to humanity. Khan Academy is working on moving edution online, FIRST is a non-profict organisation focused on science and engineering education, Public.resource.org is attempting to make governments more transparent, while the African Insitute for Mathematical Sciences provides education to African students. All of these were awarded funding.
We're not sure how successful the project will be, but it's good to see Google investing in things like this. What's it called? “Mono... doh!”