Dubai: Residents and visitors will soon be able to move around Dubai’s busiest districts without having to worry about traffic, while enjoying panoramic views of the city aboard futuristic sky pods.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) retweeted a Dubai Media Office tweet on Tuesday that gave a sneak peek of the planned route map for the pods, a personal rapid transit system which is described as a cross between a monorail and a ski lift.
The route appears to link Business Bay with Al Wasl and covers the busy areas around Burj Khalifa, Dubai International Financial Centre, Bay Avenue, Marasi Drive, across Sheikh Zayed Road towards Al Wasl district, City Walk, and Coca-Cola Arena as outlined in the Business Bay – Al Wasl Link, Business Bay and Downtown Loops.
Recently, the RTA signed an agreement with UK-based BeemCar Ltd “to step up cooperation in developing futuristic mobility solutions through sky pods built on suspended transport technology.”
“The signing of the agreement is part of RTA’s efforts to deploy autonomous transit means in line with the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed at diverting 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai to autonomous transit means by 2030. The move corresponds to RTA’s efforts to enhance the integration of mass transit modes, and offer a solution to the first and last-mile challenge; which helps riders reach their final destinations,” said Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, RTA Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors.
No date of completion have been given.
Capacity and covenience
The small automated vehicles or electric sky pods can seat four passengers each and travel at 50-km/h at half second intervals along routes stretching almost 50-km cutting across Business Bay, Downtown Dubai and Al Wasl district.
They will have their own right-of-way above the traffic as sky pods are attached to beams that will be arranged in a network that criss-cross the city with a minimum clearance height of 7.5-metres above ground. Pods will always remain horizontal, even when climbing inclines, to prevent the ‘roller-coaster’ effect and ensure ‘a calm stomach’ for passengers.
According to BeemCar, the network could accommodate around 20,000 passengers per hour. “Unlike a rail-based system, there is no physical track switching, the intelligent pods choose the shortest route through diverging and converging junctions, travelling directly from origin to destination, without any stopping en route,” it added.
Moreover, since the sky pods rise above ground, passengers will be able to enjoy a more scenic route of the city.
How it works
Passengers board the climate controlled pods at ground level stops, much like bus stops. Once aboard, the door closes and the pod is accelerated from ground level back onto the main beam, where it slots into a gap between other pods all travelling on the beam in the same direction.
Passengers select a destination on the touchscreen and as the pod begins to move, it will slowly rotate through 90° and lock into position with the pod and passengers facing forward.
The pod will travel direct to its programmed destination where it will turn off the main beam and decelerate into the stop, dropping back down to ground level.
According to BeemCar, whatever the weather, the built-in heating and air conditioning provides a comfortable environment, whilst the large wraparound screen gives access to a panoramic view of the city. Sky pods are also not affected by flooding or bad weather.
The sky pod is a lightweight structure that does not need the same level of crash protection as an automobile due to the negligible risk of collision. Pods are independently controlled but there is an element of sychronous control, such that when one pod stops on a section of beam, they all stop.
The pod weighs less than 400kg (unladen) and measures approximately 2.5m long x 2m wide x 2m high externally. It has 4 forward facing seats in two-tiered rows, with the rear seats set higher and further apart. This provides increased visibility for passengers through the large transparent front end that extends from floor to ceiling and wraps around most of the sides, similar to a helicopter cockpit.
Sky pods at a glance
- Offers panoramic view of the city
- A cross between a monorail and a ski lift
- Will operate in its own Right-of-Way (RoW) above the traffic
- Resilient to weather and floods
- Able to carry wheelchair and mobility scooter users, bicycles pushchairs and parcels
- Ride will remain horizontal at all times to ensure “a calm stomach” for passengers.
50-km entire stretch of the sky pod system along Dubai’s busiest districts
4 passengers per pod
20,000 passengers per hour
70 per cent less energy use than other urban transport
7.5 metres mimimum clearance above ground