Published on : Monday, October 11, 2021
Traffic congestion is a problem for cities around the world, with some looking to electric scooters to ease gridlock, and others to AI-enabled traffic lights.
But, uSky believes the solution is to build a network of driver less high-speed pods that ride around cities suspended from a steel track.
In June, Belarus-based uSky Transport opened a 400-meter test line in Sharjah, which borders Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
From the outside, the electrically powered pods are glossy white while the interiors are designed to feel like a first-class airline suite, including mood lighting, lounge music and floor-to-ceiling windows. With two padded armchairs and two foldable seats, the vehicle being tested can carry up to four passengers.
A fully implemented city-wide network could support 10,000 passengers per hour, uSky says, with vehicles currently able to travel up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour.
Although for safety reasons, they can’t reach their top speed on the test track.
The company says its objective is to free up roads and ground space that could be used for greenery, walkways and public leisure spaces.
The ground level is completely over-saturated, and people are tired of traffic jams. People are tired of emissions, says Oleg Zaretskiy, uSky Transport’s CEO.
According to uSky, while one Km of subway can cost up to $150 million to construct, this system costs around $10 million. And by using less structural materials, it reduces carbon emissions.
The company has also developed a similar technology to transport cargo containers, carrying up to 48 tons at a top speed of 90 Km (56 miles) per hour.
Transport pods that travel above the ground, often referred to as “sky pods”, are sometimes compared to monorails or cable cars.
But they offer greater flexibility, says Stephanie Haag, Associate Partner of McKinsey & Company.
Although she cautions that it would require careful planning to avoid congestion in a busy city-wide network, Haag believes it could still be a widely adopted solution if the promises of improved mobility and sustainability are kept.
Later this year, uSky plans to build a 2.4 kilometer (1.5 mile) line in Sharjah, allowing it to run the passenger pod at higher speeds and demonstrate how passenger and cargo pods can be integrated into the same network.
Neighboring emirate Dubai is also exploring driver-less pods that would operate above city traffic.