Reliance Industries has acquired a majority stake in skyTran Inc, a technology company that develops pod car transport systems, increasing its holding to 54.46% from 26.3% earlier at an additional investment of $26.76 million through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures. The deal is a part of Reliance’s stated aim to develop new green technologies, the conglomerate said late on Sunday.
“We are excited by skyTran’s potential to achieve an order of magnitude impact on high speed intra and inter-city connectivity and its ability to provide a high speed, highly efficient and economical ‘transportation-as-a-service’ platform for India and the rest of the world,” RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said.
He said non-polluting, high speed, personal rapid transportation systems will help facilitate environmental sustainability through efficient use of alternative energy and make an impactful reduction in air and noise pollution.
Pod taxi is a driverless personal rapid transit system that runs on overhead suspension or magnetic levitation. It runs on electricity and typically accommodates two to six people.
The government had given a green signal to test three such rapid transport systems in 2017.
skyTran is a venture capital funded technology company formed under the laws of Delaware, US. The company is supported by global venture capital investors such as Innovation Endeavors.
RIL’s subsidiary Reliance Industries Investments and Holdings had first acquired 12.7% in skyTran in October 2018. In November 2019, it increased the stake to 17.3%, and then to 26.3% in April 2020.
skyTran has developed a highspeed, elevated transport system that can carry both passengers as well as cargo using magnetic levitation technology.
The pods can move at high speeds of over 100-120 kmph on elevated aluminium poles built over normal roads. Dozens of these autonomous pods can travel on the pole without any human intervention.
The system, which has very few moving parts and therefore less prone to defects, has been designed in such a way that the additional infrastructure is created over existing roads. Vehicles in this system arrive on demand, not as per schedule, and stop only at the station desired by the passenger.