Friday, October 15, 2010

Google Car, Google Monorail

Offshoring The Wind Harvesting: Google Wind
Smart Cars Should Talk To Each Other
Robert Scoble's Not Google Car
Self Driving Google Car

This company is going offline, it looks like.

A few problems: for this to be feasible for long distance travel of even a few miles you are going to have to make room for the fact that some people might have mood swings and just stop pedaling half way there, causing traffic jams. Having several tracks might be one way to do it. So when one track jams, you switch traffic to another track. Or having central control so that a stuck "car" is centrally moved with electricity even if the person inside has stopped pedaling.

Got to make room for the human element. The human finds ways to throw a wrench into the cog.

Otherwise the monorail looks like a fantastic idea. Fun, environmentally friendly.

Wait. What about the air inside? How do you maintain the temperature and still make room for the fact that the person inside might want to breathe? You don't want someone to use up all the oxygen inside, and then what?

Looks like there are little holes for air. So it can't be too cold outside, right? Or too hot.

I am mighty impressed with the speed of this thing. The zero carbon promise, and the speed: those might be the two big attractions. And the individualistic bend to having your own little cubicle. I am very interested in the technology behind this.

"The most efficient vehicle on earth," wow. This is like bicycle on steroids. At 70 kilometers per hour, this is practically a car. And, wow, the view you will get to see along the way. It is like there is nothing between you and the landscape. You are floating through the landscape. I can see this being a big hit in all the tourist spots of the world. This could be a great way to watch wild life in Africa, or to gawk at the snow and ice high up in the Himalayas. There though, you might need to carry oxygen tanks.

This feels like ought to be that layer that needs to be added atop all the cities of the world. You buy your monthly metro pass, and you ride these things as much as you want. It is just like a car, minus the hassle. This might do to big city transportation what microfinance has done to poverty in Bangladesh.

50 miles per hour is a car. I could go cross country with this thing. Perhaps there is a room for a hybrid. Bring the smarts of the smart car to this thing, and make "car pooling" possible. You want 100 of these things to move in one rhythm over long distances.
Animation of a spinning bicycle pedalImage via WikipediaThe aerodynamics of this thing is mighty impressive. You spend most of your biking energy fighting the wind, not pedaling the bike, it seems like.

So two or more of these monorail cars can go faster than one? But then how do you avoid the free rider problem? What if I stop pedaling and simply go along for the ride? Again, but that is the human element. That is not a technology issue. The technology of this thing is just fine.

In a smart grid, the best idea could come from anywhere. And now from the part of the world that brought us Google Maps, we get the Google Monorail. Bravo. This thing takes the best of many forms of, perhaps all forms of transportation. This is like flying a small plane. This is like gliding through air. This is like biking on land. This is like riding a train. Air is like water, this is like water transportation. This is like skiing.

If the 21st is going to be a green century - what are the other choices? - then this monorail has a big future.

No traffic lights. Wow. That is like the town I grew up in.

PSFK: Kyle Cameron: Google Explores A Pedal-Powered Public Monorail System: Shweeb is a transportation project that has come out of Google’s Project 10^100 program, where Google solicits and supports ideas that change the world by helping as many people as possible.
I like it that Google is using its surplus money to think outside the box, the box being software. Clean tech is one of the next big things after web technology. Soon enough web tech is going to become utility, it is going to be fundamental, but it is going to recede into the background. Clean tech is a great sector to bet on. The next industrial revolution is going to be clean.

This monorail is a multi billion dollar idea. It deserves to take off like crazy.

Its next incarnation might be a version that is electric powered and weather proof and has two way radio communication. Then we could dream long distances. As long as that electricity is coming from a wind farm, it is still clean. Could you make it much faster then? Could you make the cars bigger? How about 10 people to a car? Then we could have conversation. But then Google has struggled with social.

You don't have to confiscate people's lands to build this thing, or at least not too much of it. Roads ask for land, lots and lots of land.

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