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All Aboard SkyTran

August 11th, 2015

Technologist

Please wait a moment, your personal elevated transit pod is about to arrive.

For the last few years, a company called skyTran has been developing an urban rapid transportation system that features a fleet of two-person pods suspended on a network of tracks in the unused space above city streets. The pods are propelled between stations using energy-efficient magnetic levitation.

The idea isn’t just the scribbling of a sci-fi author envisioning a future of mass transit that will never happen. Last year, the California-based company announced it had partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries to build a demonstration system on the IAI’s campus. As part of the partnership, IAI said it would contribute expertise in robotics, engineering and control systems.

The demonstration system is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2015.

image

(Concept animation of skyTran track and stations installed with an urban setting. Vehicles are shown traveling along a busy city street.)

“The support afforded by IAI is a breakthrough for skyTran,” said IAI’s Yossi Melamed at the time. “IAI, as a world-class designer of aircraft and avionics, is the perfect partner to take skyTran from concept to construct. We are proud to be part of this exciting moment in transportation history and to host the first skyTran system in our grounds.”

After learning from demonstration and improving the system, the two companies said they would construct the first commercial skyTran in Tel Aviv. SkyTran says other systems are being considered around the world, with construction to begin after completion of the demonstration. Projects in France and India are expected to be among the first.

With on-demand personal mobility that can be ordered through an Uber-like smartphone app, skyTran could revolutionize urban mobility and streetscapes. But will the concept catch on for gridlocked cities around the world that could use it most?

All gifs and captions courtesy of skyTran.us.

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