Welcome to… A New Way to Travel!
Several years ago, SkyCab began to think in terms of how people will get around the larger growing cities of the future. In today’s society, traffic jams are long, petrol prices are high, and underground trains, trams, and buses are not necessarily suited to the future needs of mankind. The current hot topic is to find a solution to these problems. Should we expand and refurbish existing forms of transport and if so, how, in what way, and what will the costs be? SkyCab decided to look at it the other way around by asking market participants how they would like to travel in the future – which is how this innovation came to be.
The market participants surveyed were children, women, men, the elderly, people with disabilities, business owners, students, visitors – well, practically every kind of person, all with different needs and backgrounds. Five points were made that were common to the different groups: travelling should be attractive; accessible; safe and secure; energy efficient and environmentally friendly and cost effective. These five points are what the entire concept is based upon and were taken into consideration by the Swedish Rail Administration when they decided to fund a research, development and demonstration project.
SkyCab was then tasked with developing controls, safety, and the future design of the vehicle. The first full-scale moving prototype was demonstrated and tested on an indoor test track in Hofors. As a result, SkyCab may become Sweden’s next big export product; several foreign cities have expressed interest in SkyCab, including cities in Asia.
SkyCab consists of small driverless track-based vehicles that automatically go to where the passenger wants to be, much like “tracked taxi” – a Personal Rapid Transit system (PRT). There are simple PRT systems in operation, where all stops are on just one line, at Heathrow Airport and in Mazdar. A fully developed PRT system, with lines in a network like a spider’s web, does not currently exist anywhere in the world.
PRT systems can vary in appearance and there are different possibilities for the design of the product and the transportation solutions. However, it is the overall concept that is appealing. It is easier to build, requires fewer materials, and it is possible to be more fl exible because the system is built as modules. It is a better experience for the traveller if they travel in vehicles that run on guideways above ground and which are, in principle, always available and waiting at the platform for passengers. The construction process offers possibilities for creative use of solar energy.
There are also challenges in terms of architecture and aesthetics. It is necessary to determine the correct angles and heights so that the SkyCab construction does not cover too many of the surrounding buildings. Even acoustics are an important aspect – it is important to keep levels of sound low and to actively avoid generating noise (e.g. through the use of rubber tires). As with other rail traffic, gradients will always pose a challenge and in terms of speed, the belief is that the vehicles do not need to travel any faster than 40-60 km/h.
Since the PRT system is separate from all other traffic, the risk of traffic accidents is very low. The fully automated system ensures lower operating costs. This makes it obvious when studying the figures and the time is takes to recoup investment costs, that PRT systems have a faster payback time than underground trains and trams.
It is hard to say at present whether the proposals that have been launched are good enough, as they have not yet been built. Even if there are teething problems that have to be addressed along the way, we would like to see these options taken seriously when discussing the development and expansion of cities. Several Swedish cities have also shown interest. The Municipality of Sigtuna, Swedavia, Arlandastad Holding and SkyCab have carried out studies for a PRT system with 30 entry and exit points, 37 kilometres of track, and 442 vehicles supplementing regional journeys in the Märsta – Arlanda Airport – Arlandastad area for 7 million passengers per year. SkyCab can complement the capacity of guideways lines and airports so that an area practically gets its own public transport network. And a number of criss-crossing journeys no longer need to be made by car.
SkyCab is the “The Top 10” on a 3D-designpage on internet, www.3dvia.com/blog/3dvia-top-10-3d-models-138/
Selected by OECD as one of fi ve “prominent practises” regarding eco-innovations in Sweden.
Selected by WWF/GlobalFOCUS as one of 12 of the foremost climate entrepreneurs in Sweden.