Traffic congestion is a problem for cities worldwide, with some looking for electric scooters and others AI-enabled traffic lights. But it is believed by one company the solution is to build a network of driverless high-speed pods suspended from a steel track that ride around the cities.
Belarus-based uSky Transport in June opened a 400-meter test line in Sharjah, which borders Dubai in the UAE. The electric pods are glossy white from the outside, and the interiors are designed to feel like 1st class airline suit. It includes floor-to-ceiling windows, lounge music, and mood lighting. It has two folded seats and armchairs. The vehicle is being tested can carry up to four passengers.
According to uSky, a fully implemented city-wide network could support 10,000 passengers per hour with vehicles currently traveling up to 150 kilometers per hour. On the test track, for safety reasons, they can’t reach their top speed. The company says the main purpose is to free up ground space and roads that could be used for public leisure spaces, public leisure spaces, greenery. “The ground level is completely oversaturated, and people are tired of traffic jams. People are tired of emissions,” says Oleg Zaretskiy, uSky Transport’s CEO.
According to the company, one kilometer of the subway can cost up to $150 million to construct, and this system costs around $10 million. It reduces carbon emission by using less structural emission. The company has developed similar technology carrying up to 48 tons at a top speed of 90 kilometers per hour to transport cargo containers.
Stephanie Haag, the associate partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company, said, Though “sky pods” are often compared to cable cars or monorails, they offer greater flexibility. She also shared that “In a cable car, you have one car, and it always drives at the same speed; you can use many different cabins on that particular infrastructure.” She also cautioned that it would require careful planning to avoid congestion in a busy city-wide network. She also believes that it could be a popular solution if the promise of improved sustainability and mobility are kept.