My friend Greg Moran, who knows a thing or two about infrastructure, sent me this fascinating link to SkyTran. The developers of SkyTran describe the product thus:
SkyTran is the Auto 2.0 or Auto2 – not just auto-mobile but auto-matic. This new-generation vehicle holds two passengers and weighs just 200 pounds empty. It moves on lightweight “guideways” one-foot wide and 20-30 feet above the ground, riding on magnetic levitation (“maglev”) coils inside the guideway instead of wheels. Because vehicles floating on a magnetic field can switch on and off the guideway easily, there will be stations every few blocks – or several per block in busy areas – little platforms 10′ above the sidewalk or attached to the side of buildings.
GreenTech Media provides a great illustration of what such a system might look like as well:
For a mental picture, think of a magnetic levitation (maglev) trains cross-bred with that thing that shuffles around shirts in a dry cleaner.
The first lines would be along heavy-duty transportation corridors, i.e., delivering passengers from central downtown stations to the airport, or inside the redesigned city of the future. Over time, the lines could be extended to individual homes with parallel tracks for exits. The cable required to propel the vehicle and hold them in the air is only about 18 inches wide and two feet wide, said John Cole, Unimodal’s COO.
“You could install it on standard utility poles. It would require the same gauge [of pole] that would hold up a traffic light,” he said.