A longer sky pod test track is set to start operations ahead of Expo 2020 in October.
Once Sharjah’s sky pods start running at its average speed of 120-125kmph, the emirate’s commuters will be able to travel across a distance of 2.4km in less than 60 seconds.
These pods are not only fast, they are also set to be cheaper than any other traditional transport system currently available in the world, according to Oleg Zaretskiy, chief executive of uSky Transport, one of the two firms behind the innovation.
These sky pods, however, will still have to undergo many more regulatory requirements before any commercial launch, but work is progressing as far as testing is concerned.
Initial safety trials are complete and the four-seater sky pods operating on string rail technology currently travel at a speed of 40kmph while hanging from a nascent track of 400 metres.
In the pipeline is a longer test track set to start operations ahead of Expo 2020 in October.
“The first project will come up in Sharjah in the UAE. These tracks will be incorporated in the local network as well. We have two 2.4km tracks that are a work in progress. One, we intend finishing around October-November before Expo 2020 and the other 2.4km we want to finish by May 2022,” Zaretskiy said.
“The system can reach a speed of 150kmph. A concept is also being worked upon where the speed limits can be accelerated to 500kmph.”
Its inventors, uSky and Unitsky String Technologies of Belarus, have called the ground-breaking technology “the future”.
Sky pods’ passenger model can bear a load of four tonnes (with passengers) and the cargo model is capable of delivering 12m containers.
“VIP options for U Car can carry four people and we can have U Buses that can accommodate up to 16 passengers. Then, we have the option of models that can be connected like a train and we can tailor solutions in accordance to any customer’s desire. It also depends on the footfall. Block chain technology can be used for ticketing solutions and we are exploring that as well. We are also in conversation with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA),” Zaretskiy said.
Since the sky pods were brought to the UAE in 2019, some modifications have already been done to tailor the system to the country’s needs and climate.
“Now, there are impellers in the sky pods as we realised that in this weather, a lot of dust comes into the rail and settles on it. Therefore, we are constantly looking at improvements to ensure our systems suit local climate conditions,” said Zaretskiy.
Officials in Sharjah highlighted that several regulatory requirements will still have to be met before the pods’ commercial launch.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CE0 of the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, said: “In Sharjah, we are looking at different places like Khor Fakkan and we are working on options within the city as well. We hope to commercialise this technology soon and make it a big success in this region.
“Mobility is a global topic. We hope sky pods will solve some of the congestion related challenges as it uses less land, less energy and is more efficient. This transport solution is meant to be cost effective and meant to make it more efficient and effective. The uSky project is a key project for us here in Sharjah. It’s a project that we hope will go global.”