GOOGLE BLOWS 1 million bucks on worlds most stupid idea -
They should have just given it to india... they couls use it right now...
IT'S probably not the vision of the future Jetsons fans were imagining back in the 60s.
But then again, back in the 60s, oil was plentiful and the Earth was a degree or two cooler.
Now, nearly 50 years later, there's a chance that instead of commuting in our spacepods, we might be cycling to work.
In glass tubes, upside-down.
Such a sustainable transport system not only is plausible, it already exists.
At Rotorua, in New Zealand, the Shweeb cycle track is in operation as one of the hundreds of "adrenalin-fuelled" adventures on offer across the Tasman.
At the moment, it's a 200m track which resembles a mini monorail.
Suspended from the track are transparent pods, in which users lay down and cycle their way across scenic farmlands at speeds of up to 45km/h.
The cycles are equipped with seven gears and the reclining postion is necessary for both comfort and reducing drag, according to the Shweeb's operators.
So far, so fun for tourists and Shweeb Holdings Limited alike, but now a major cash injection from global search giant Google could one day see businessmen and women whizzing over the top of your car twice a day as you curse traditional traffic.
Each year since 2008, Google has parcelled out $US10 million to five organisations that best meet their five challenges to make the world a better place.
Called Project 10^100, the initiative this year attracted more than 150,000 entries from some 170 countries.
Shweeb was tagged as one of the top five as voted on by the public, claiming top honours in the "Drive innovation in public transport" category.
The original concept was dreamt up and put in place by Melbourne cyclist Geoff Barnett while he was living in Tokyo.
He spent six years refining the idea, before settling on the adventure playground of Rotorua as the best place to get his idea off the ground, so to speak.
Since its launch in 2007 under the Agroventures banner, more than 30,000 people have taken the Shweeb for a spin.
The current speed record is 55 seconds for a 600m ride.
Shweeb managing director Peter Cossey said the company would spend the $US1 million ($1.05 million) on research and development to build a showcase transit system in the northern hemisphere.
"The northern hemisphere became the natural choice for us due to the sheer number of people that require transport and also the opportunity to achieve a higher global profile for the future growth of the company," Mr Cossey said.
The funding was a "massive opportunity", he said.