June 25, 2014
SkyTran System Will Be Elevated And Utilize MagLev Technology
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A NASA-affiliated company based in the space agency’s Ames Research Center has announced an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to construct a revolutionary new transportation system in central Israel.
The novel system from skyTran would be an elevated transit network with two-person pod-like vehicles suspended from elevated tracks utilizing Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) technology.
While skyTran is reported to be in talks with other municipalities in the United States and India, the Israel project is being described as a sort of proving ground for these other systems.
“The support afforded by IAI is a breakthrough for skyTran,” said the company’s chief executive Jerry Sanders in a statement. “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,” said Yossi Melamed, director of IAI's military aircraft division. “The (skyTran system) will incorporate IAI’s advanced capabilities in the areas of engineering, robotics, and control.”
The project will begin with a smaller, 1600-foot loop around the IAI campus in Tel Aviv. The vehicles used in the Israeli pilot project are expected to travel up to 43 mph, but skyTran said future iterations of the system will probably be able to achieve higher speeds. skyTran said it envisions users having the ability to call for a vehicle by using a smartphone and having a vehicle meet up with the rider at a specific station along the track.
The system would be built in Tel Aviv – a city of around 400,000 people that commute mostly by car. The roads of Tel Aviv are often gridlocked with traffic.
"Tel Aviv is a world city,” Sanders told the international news agency Reuters. “It's a destination for people around the world. A center of commerce. Israelis love technology and we don't foresee a problem of people not wanting to use the system. Israel is a perfect test site.”
The initial components of the pilot project will be built in skyTran’s California facility and shipped out to Tel Aviv. Much of the pilot system will be assembled in Israel. Sanders projects that the initial loop should be up and running by 2015.
“The NRP (NASA Research Park) is proud to have skyTran as a valued tenant and partner in our world-class shared-use R&D and education campus for industry, academia, non-profits, and government,” said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, which manages the NRP. “The NRP provides a physical place for innovation and entrepreneurship and serves as a technology accelerator through fostering both informal and formal collaborations.”
As skyTran is working on the pilot project, the company will also be working on its first commuter line. The first section will be about 2.7 miles long, comprised of three stations and cost around $50 million to construct.
"It can handle 12,000 people an hour per guideway, and that number grows exponentially with each additional guideway," Sanders said. "That is more than a light rail and equal to three lanes of highway."
Image 2 (below): a conceptual image of the SkyTran pod. Credit: SkyTran