Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries has recently acquired a US-based transportation company SkyTran developing Pod Taxis, that collected initially invested in 3 years ago, through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures.
Reliance started by acquiring 12.7% of SkyTran in Oct 2018. In next year Nov 2019, it raised its stake to 17.37%. By April 2020 Reliance put in the third tranche of investment to brings its stake up to 26.3% and finally news came out its total stake in the company now stands at 54.46%.
SkyTran in India
SkyTran has developed breakthrough passive magnetic levitation and propulsion technology for executing personal transportation systems aimed at solving the problem of traffic congestion globally said Reliance in its regulatory filing.
There will be no stops in between for a commuter, As per SkyTran’s Pod Taxi service concept. SkyTran is great for traveling within the city for a fixed distance like in New Delhi and Mumbai.
The proposed SkyTran transportation system will consist of computer-controlled passenger pods, running on its patented Passive Magnetic Levitation Technology (PMLT), and would use cutting-edge IT, Telecom, IoT, and advanced materials technologies to transport passengers in a fast, safe, green, and commercial manner.
Simply put, it is a driverless personal rapid transit system that runs on a predetermined course using magnetic levitation and it will operate on less electric consumption.
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Project
Both, SkyTran and Hyperloop are in the business of making Pod Taxis. Also, called personal rapid transit (PRT), these are a sort of small public transport facility that feature small automated vehicles that run within a network of specially built tracks.
Hyperloop and SkyTran taxis use the power of magnets to move around at speeds that can theoretically reach up to 240kmph.
Hyperloop in India
Hyperloop, already, has occupied with 3 projects within India. One connecting Mumbai to Pune, another increasing the connectivity to the Bangalore International Airport, and the latest endeavor to connect Chandigarh to India’s capital city, New Delhi.
Hyperloop is great for traveling longer distances, more between cities than within the cities itself.
Concept and Need of SkyTran vs Hyperloop in India
The need to introduce Pod Taxis in India to solve the traffic congestion globally and the idea was introduced by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, in 2016.
A year later, in 2017, a panel headed by the Indian government’s policy think and NITI Aayog cleared the ministry’s proposal to test three rapid transport systems using Pod Taxis.
The shortlisted candidates were New Zealand’s Metrino Personal Rapid Transit, UK’s ultra-global PRT, and the US–based SkyTran.
Ultra global uses rubber tires that run on specially made tracks and Metrino’s pods are suspended from overhead rails. Out of the three, SkyTran is the only one that uses magnetic levitation to move Pod taxis from point to point, making it the only competitor to Hyperloop’s hopes in India.
Why Hyperloop was not shortlisted
Rather than tying up with the central government, Hyperloop chooses to work on a project with the state government. It has been functioning with the Maharashtra government to set up the world’s first commercial Hyperloop corridor running between Pune and Mumbai.
Has the Hyperloop been tested?
Virgin Hyperloop announced that Pod carries two humans through a tube at over 140 km under 30 minutes for the first time successfully. The suggested route will link two of the most important and rapid-growth cities in India – Mumbai, and Pune. The test took place at the company’s Devloop test track in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada.
Apart from the Pune – Mumbai project, Virgin Hyperloop is working with the state government in Punjab and Bangalore Aircraft Industries Private Limited (BAIL) to bring Hyperloop technology to various parts of the country.
Competition in the Energy sector as well
After the successful launch of Musk’s plans with Tesla in India, Mukesh Ambani announced that he will invest in making batteries for vehicles.
While Tesla makes its lion share of the revenue from the actual cars, Musk has invested in energy generation and storage in a big way.