skyTran demo set for next year, companies say

Media reports notwithstanding, a test of the magnet-powered transportation system will likely take place next year, not this week

A SkyTran pod (simulation courtesy of
A SkyTran pod (simulation courtesy of

skyTran, the US company that is developing a Jetsons-style elevated pod powered by magnetic levitation, will not be holding a demonstration at the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries, as had been widely reported.

IAI, which partnered with Mountain View-based skyTran to develop the technology for the urban transportation market, “is aiming for early 2016” for the demonstration, said a spokesperson in the IAI public relations office.

“Once we have the demo we will have a very big event,” the spokesperson said. For that to happen, however, the elevated magnetic “track” that the pods are supposed to run across need to be built first, and that has not yet taken place either, she said. Media reports had said that the demo would take place at the end of October.

In a follow-up email, a company representative confirmed that there was currently no demo scheduled, although “work on the Test Track (a.k.a. “Technology Demonstration System One or TDS1) in Tel Aviv is proceeding fine.”

IAI, for its part, said it is “very excited” to be working with skyTran. The two companies entered into an agreement to build the demo trackbed for the “magnetic levitation” (maglev) transportation system in June 2014. Yosef Melamed, director of IAI’s Lahav Division, said: “We are proud to be part of this exciting moment in transportation history and to host the first skyTran system in our grounds. The evaluation process will incorporate IAI’s advanced capabilities in the areas of engineering, robotics and control.”

The system, said the companies, is meant as a replacement for ground transportation. It consists of a network of computer-controlled, 2-person “jet-like” vehicles employing state-of-the-art passive Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) technology, designed to “move passengers in a fast, safe, green, and economical manner,” said the company, adding that the system “will transport passengers above the surface traffic and without stopping at other people’s stations. skyTran intends to revolutionize public transportation and, with it, urban and suburban commuting.”

The test demo is crucial to the expansion and extension of the technology, IAI said. The demo, when it takes place, will be a full-featured one, testing the pods in real-life conditions – at high speeds, with full payloads, and levitating and moving along the magnetic tramway. The demo system, said the company, “will enable testing, refinement, and validation of skyTran’s technology in a controlled environment.”

Speaking after completing the agreement with IAI on the demo system, Jerry Sanders, skyTran CEO, said “the support afforded by IAI is a breakthrough for skyTran. IAI, as a world-class designer of aircraft and avionics, is the perfect partner to take skyTran from concept to construct engineering, robotics, and control.”

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