Advanced Rail Systems
Unimodal, Inc.

Unimodal, Inc. with offices in California and Montana, has developed "SkyTran", a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) concept using MAGLEV technology.  In the SkyTran concept, small personalized vehicles, each carrying 2-4 passengers, travel along an elevated MAGLEV guideway.  With magnetic levitation providing a no-contact bearing, the SkyTran vehicle is suspended from the guideway by a fixed beam running alongside the top of the vehicle, and "surfs" on a magnetic wave, literally gliding on air as it is driven forward by an electric induction motor.  Passengers board and disembark SkyTran vehicles at small “portals,” which are much smaller than traditional train stations. 

Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) vehicle envisioned as part of Unimodal system.

The SkyTran concept is envisioned as having many benefits over traditional rail systems.  The magnetically-charged track is much lighter than typical train tracks or MAGLEV rails for large trains.  This, combined with the simplicity of the portals use for embarkation, reduces the cost of the SkyTran infrastructure and enables tracks and portals to be situated in crowded, densely-populated areas where it would be impractical to build conventional rail or light rail systems.  Using packet switching technology to safely position the vehicles as they cruise at speeds up to 150 mph, each SkyTran rail has the equivalent passenger capacity as a three-lane highway.  Unimodal estimates that SkyTran travel would be as energy-efficient as using cars with a fuel economy of 200 miles per gallon.

SkyTran is envisioned as a transportation solution for congested inner cities, perhaps serving as a "feeder" system to intercity rail systems.  Airports, business parks, and other localized settings are also seen as attractive sites for SkyTran.  Unimodal is working with the U.S. federal government and local authorities in California and other states to perfect SkyTran’s technologies and build a demonstration system, which Unimodal hopes to have operational by 2010.

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