skyTran system aims to revolutionize transportation at Abu Dhabi resort complex


A NASA Space Act company will introduce an innovative next-generation elevated ‘maglev’ personal rapid transit system in Abu Dhabi that aims to revolutionize transportation at the Yas Island leisure resort.

The operator of the resort complex, Miral, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with skyTran Inc., which is headquartered at the NASA Research Park near Mountain View, California. The agreement will launch the study and implementation of skyTran, a personal rapid transit (PRT) system, on Yas Island. skyTran’s computer-controlled, two-person ‘jet-like’ vehicles employ unique, state-of-the-art, skyTran Magnetic Levitation (STML) technology instead of wheels, and aims to revolutionize public transportation within urban and suburban communities. The patented, high-speed, low-cost, elevated PRT system, built at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, will have pods zipping above traffic from one destination to another in a safe, timely and energy efficient manner across Yas Island. The project aims to connect the current and future destinations on Yas Island, and eventually link it to Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Yas Island currently receives over 25 million visitors every year to attractions that 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, visitor numbers to Yas Island from around the world are expected to grow to over 30 million. The innovative skyTran PRT system for transportation complements Miral’s vision to create unique and exciting experiences for residents and visitors to Yas Island from across the globe. As visitor numbers to the resort grow, skyTran’s path-breaking 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.

“Innovation remains at the heart of what we do on Yas Island,” explained Mohamed Abdulla Al Zaabi, 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 which 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.”

skyTran’s CEO, Jerry Sanders (pictured top), commented, “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. 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.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).