Sunday, September 26, 2010

Muscle To The Monorail

At first glance, this Google-sponsored project to develop a muscle-powered monorail system, based on a New Zealand amusement-park ride, looks like a silly parody of the worst kind of kooky Kalifornian keep-fit utopianism. As an article in Wired points out, it doesn't seem to do anything that bicycles can't do better, and besides, ugh, public transport.

It's certainly not anything like the kind of futuristic transport systems we were promised back in the 1960s, when the last hurrah of Gernsbackian ideology promised all kinds of amazing machines powered by electricity too cheap to be worth metering. But the future isn't what it used to be - it's gnarlier, more diverse, extremely uneven. In the age of post-peak oil, this kind of low-impact technology is beginning to seem more plausible than, say, nuclear-powered supersonic stratosphere cruisers. And even if it doesn't find any application in the regreened cities of Earth, I reckon it would be ideal for tootling around the forest canopy of a domed moon colony - far better than the usual golf carts, although it would be a challenge to stage a pod-based chase scene.


Blogger Pat Cadigan said...

By next year, this will probably be a new fitness class at the pricier health clubs.

October 05, 2010 10:58 am  

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