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The suspended transport system, which includes a uCar that can carry up to 6 passengers, is being tested at Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park. The project involves the development of high-speed passenger and cargo transport. 8th June 2021. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

Sharjah: Plans are underway to roll out a high-speed sky pod transport system for passengers and cargo in Sharjah. The suspended transport system, which involves the movement of driverless pods on “strings” — which are a bundle of tensioned steel tracks attached on concrete supports — is being tested at Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park).

The suspended transport system is different from the conventional pulley system of cable cars or aerial trams, which continuously move and circulate around two terminal stations at a speed between 10 to 20km per hour. Sky pods are connected to high-tensioned steel wire and move back and forth independently.

Skypod capacity

The uCar (passenger sky pod) that can carry up to four passengers runs on 400-metre test track at SRTI Park at a speed of up to 50km per hour. A longer 2.4km sring-rail system will be completed between October to November this year and the driverless hanging electric pod will be tested to run up to 150km per hour. Speaking to Gulf News on Tuesday, Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said: "We look forward to commercialising the technology and make it one of the biggest successes in the region,” he added..”

“At the moment uSky Transport is testing different passenger and cargo trains and we hope the testing will be successful and we will be able to commercialise the technology and take it to the market,” he added.

Al Mahmoudi said there are different options and sites to roll out the new type of elevated light rail transportation system across Sharjah. “We are looking at Khor Fakkan and we are also working on options inside the city centre. We look forward to commercialising the technology and make it one of the biggest successes in the region,” he added.

At the moment uSky Transport is testing different passenger and cargo trains and we hope the testing will be successful and we will be able to commercialise the technology and take it to the market

- Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park

Futuristic city

Al Mahmoudi noted the elevated string-rail system] is part of the comprehensive plan aimed at transforming the city of Sharjah into a sustainable futuristic city.

“We all know the challenges posed by traffic congestion and mobility. We believe the uSky project will boost the mobility strategy and infrastructure of Sharjah and the entire UAE because it uses less land and less land but more efficient,” he added.

Oleg Zaretkskiy, CEP of uSky Transport added “the suspended transport system would cost significantly lower as compared to other transport solutions. It also ensures safety, rational use of land, and minimal environmental damage.”

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Oleg Zaretskiy, Chief Executive Officer, uSky Transport FZE. uSky Transport, while speaking with media at Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park in Sharjah. 8th June 2021. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

How it works

Currently, a uCar that can carry up to four passengers runs on 400-metre test track at SRTI Park at a speed of up to 50km per hour. Zaretskiy said a longer 2.4km string-rail system will be completed between October to November this year and the driverless hanging electric pod can be tested to run up to 150km per hour.

“The maximum speed for intercity transport would be around 120km per hour but it can reach up to 500km per hour for intercity operations. There are also options to interlink the pods to become a train and another option is to have universal vehicle or uBus that can carry up to 16 passengers, he added.

The cargo transport, meanwhile, can carry up to 30 tonnes at a speed of 36km/hr. It is intended for transportation of freight containers with nominal length of 20 and 40 feet. Loading and unloading of containers into the skypod can be carried out by portal bridge crane or reach-stacker.

Other mobility solutions

Meanwhile, Al Mahmoudi said more innovative mobility solutions are being developed at SRTI Park, including autonomous buses and first-and-last-mile solutions such as e-bikes and scooters.

An autonomous bus that can carry up to 20 passengers is also being tested in Sharjah. The driverless bus, which is equipped with sensor and intelligent transport system to avoid collision, follows preprogrammed routes and is designed for short distance travel.