RailPod is a human powered mobility system designed to replace existing motorized vehicular infrastructure of the city of Vancouver in the year 2035. This speculative system addresses issues of social, economical, and ecological sustainability while creating the opportunity for a more embodied and experiential mode of transportation.

More Than the Sum of its Parts

The final design of the system includes a 1:12 scale model. The orthographic diagram below the photos illustrates the differences between how the model is made and the hypothetical construction of the actual RailPod. Details of the pod range from the ergonomics of the chair to the planetary gear system attached to the pedals.

To give the RailPod model context, a station was built to match the digitally drawn renders. With the track already raised above street level, the diagram illustrates how the pod changes elevation again as it enters the station, slowing it to a stop. Sloping back down to track level, the pod gains a burst of speed as it departs.

The scale model of downtown Vancouver's topography helps illustrate what the elevation would look like for the different tracks. The lines were mapped according to current transit studies of high traffic areas.

While the focus of the design is a system, a quick app prototype demonstrates how everything is regulated in terms of safety and how the user's journey would be automated.

The final experience recollects the passive, yet meditative journey of being in the passenger seat on a road trip. It creates the chance for commuters to relinquish the anxiety of traffic for the calm of gliding on rails and watching the city go by through the glass.

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Studying Motion

The project began with research into the different methods of human motion. The study helped me to develop an understanding of the range of possibilities with in the scope of human powered mobility.

Sketches & Ideation

With a scope this large, the design included various iterations. My initial sketches probed at numerous possibilities including covered walkways, personal bike shelters, elevated shortcuts, and multiple rail systems.

Initial Prototyping

The first prototype shown is one of three concepts that I developed from sketches into 3D models.

This particular prototype was the one I chose to pursue for the final design.


Process photos of the refinement of the prototype. Various versions were produced then critiqued, the feedback from which guided the adjustments for each of the following iterations.

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