SkyTran brings magnetic sky cars to Abu Dhabi


The UAE will soon be home to futuristic sky cars, with a Nasa company bringing the stuff of science fiction to Abu Dhabi. In a first for the Middle East, a self-driving monorail is coming to Yas Island, complete with personal transit pods, according to a statement.

Driverless cars will zip across traffic along magnetic lines from one destination to another on the island in a safe and efficient fashion as part of the new project. It is being developed by Miral, which is responsible for the development and management of Yas Island, and the Nasa Space Act company skyTran. The two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to study and implement the personal rapid transit (PRT) system.

Called skyTran, its computer-controlled, two-person “jet-like” vehicles employ unique, state-of-the-art, magnetic levitation technology instead of wheels. The patented high-speed, low-cost, elevated system built at the Nasa Ames Research Center in California, aims to connect the current and future destinations on Yas Island and eventually link it to Abu Dhabi International Airport.


While not quite Blade Runner’s famous Spinners, they’re certainly close.

The monorail hovers 20 feet above roads and can travel up to 250km/h, turning a two-hour car commute into a ten-minute trip, according to reports. Developed by Doug Malewicki, the 136kg pods use magnets to hang from very fine rails.

The system is first being installed in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, with construction to begin this year. No word is available on when the Abu Dhabi project will begin work.

SkyTan for tourists

“Innovation remains at the heart of what we do on Yas Island,” says Mohammad Abdullah Al Za’abi, CEO of Miral. “While we continue to build world-class destinations and expand Yas Island, it is imperative that we are able to implement an urban transportation solution, which is not only energy-efficient but also adds another level of excitement to our visitors’ experiences. With skyTran, we have a partner who not only shares our vision for innovation in Abu Dhabi, but are developing a service that will transform the Yas Island experience and grow our appeal to the millions of residents and tourists who visit us from the UAE and across the world.”

As visits to Yas Island grow, skyTran’s design will allow for expansion of its network with ease, where more tracks can be installed and additional vehicles added to the network to manage increased demand. The use of a sophisticated computer network enables vehicles to travel at optimum speed and spacing in a safe and efficient manner depending on passenger demand.

“skyTran truly is a smart transportation solution for smart cities and we are proud to be able to bring this path-breaking technology to the Middle East for the first time,” says Jerry Sanders, CEO, skyTran.

“With our access to Nasa’s cutting-edge technology and expertise, we are able to introduce a solution on Yas Island, which paves the way for Abu Dhabi to define the Middle East’s innovative mode of transport for the future.”

Yas Island attracts more than 25 million visitors every year to attractions, which include Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, and the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit. With the opening of the Warner Bros theme park in 2018, visitors to Yas Island from around the world is expected to grow to more than 30 million.



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