SkyTran seems to be getting a lot of attention lately

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


SkyTran at the moment only brings up ten results on Google News, but has gotten quite a bit of viral attention outside the mainstream media over the past two years. Here's one from last year, another one from today, and another one on Daily Kos gets quite political.

The basic idea behind SkyTran (seen in the image on the right as those tiny suspended vehicles next to the train) is that it would use pods that carry either one or two people, which would then wait at the "station" (a tiny docking area). The pods above are those that are on the move, and once a person at a station climbs in and pushes the button it will then move forward and join the other pods on the top lane, travel at 160 kph, and not stop until it reaches its destination whereupon it will then go to the off ramp, the passenger gets out and it joins the rest of the pods waiting for another customer.

One of the biggest problems with SkyTran would be handling excess capacity, such as after a football game. On a train it's possible to just jam in but hadling this with SkyTran wouldn't be easy. A possible solution would be making it expensive enough that only regular commuters would want to use it, while others would stick with the train as time is not of the essence for them on a leisurely trip home after the game. It's also questionable whether those who have just watched a game would even want to suddenly split up into groups no greater than two, since part of the fun is talking about the game on the way home in a group and suddenly being split up into either two or one (if you're unlucky and have an odd number of people) would kind of deflate the jovial atmosphere.

The FAQ for SkyTran can be seen here. It seems to be a bit overly optimistic about preventing graffiti though simply by being modern and clean (clean usually results in a lower chance of graffiti), since tagging a SkyTran could turn out to be pretty popular. One solution might be to hire local graffiti artists to do some interior design, in the same way that building owners have done.

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