With the aim to revolutionize public transport, Israel is all set to build a network of elevated hover cars. SkyTran, a NASA Space Act company, will first build a 500m pilot loop on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in central Israel, followed by a commercial network in the city of Tel Aviv.
The rapid transit system will consist of lightweight two-person vehicles, suspended from elevated magnetic tracks. The vehicles will be fitted with a technology that would allow commuters to order the car via their smartphones. These cars would pick up passengers at specific locations and then transport them directly to their destination.
The test cars will have a maximum speed of 70 km/h (43 mph), but according to SkyTran, the commercial rollout is expected to offer much faster vehicles, potentially reaching speeds of up to 240 km/h.
The first components of the network will be pre-assembled at SkyTran's headquarters at the NASA Research Park in California, while the rest will be constructed locally. The pilot project is expected to be up and running by the end of the next year.
According to Joe Dignan, an independent smart city expert, the system represents a hybrid between existing infrastructure and autonomous vehicles.
"It will get the market in the mood for autonomous vehicles - it is not too scary, is cheaper than building out a train line and uses part of the urban landscape, 20 feet above ground, that isn't currently used", he said.
SkyTran is also planning similar projects in other countries, including India and the US, but those will depend on the success of the pilot in Israel.