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Tel Aviv to pilot maglev system

Israel’s largest metropolitan area, Tel Aviv, will be the site of a pilot project that is expected to become the world’s first aerial mass transit system using maglev (magnetic levitation) technology. The country’s biggest defense contractor, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is working with USA company, skyTran, which is headquartered at the NASA Research Park (NRP) in California to construct a Technology Demonstration System (TDS) on the grounds of IAI’s corporate campus. The pilot scheme will feature a 4-500m (1,300-1,640ft) aerial loop that will carry the two-seater egg-like pods at speeds of 70km/h (44mph). The low-maintenance tracks move the cars with ‘passive’ magnetic levitation, which requires no power to keep the pods elevated and mobile. An initial burst of electricity sends each pod to 16-24km/h (10-15mph) before a linear induction motor takes it up to operating speed, while gliding inside the track, with the pod levitating 1cm (0.5in) above the rails. Construction of the TDS will start in the next three months and is due to be completed during 2015.

If the TDS pilot proves successful, the system is due to be deployed throughout Tel Aviv. The international project management firm, Jenkins Gales & Martinez (JGM), has been contracted to provide planning, civil engineering, and construction management for the city-wide automated transit network (ATN) system. Placed somewhere between a car and light rail, the fixed-route system will be fully automated, with passengers summoning a pod on their smartphone, have it meet them at a specific destination and carry them where they need to go. SkyTran’s founder and CEO, Jerry Saunders, said, “Israelis love technology and we don’t foresee a problem of people not wanting to use the system. Israel is a perfect test site. A broader system could hit 240km/h (150mph) and carry as many as 12,000 people an hour per guideway, and that number grows exponentially with each additional guideway. That is more than a light rail and equal to three lanes of highway.” Earl Gales Jr, chairman and CEO of JGM, commented, “We look forward to bringing SkyTran’s innovative capabilities to Israel. This is the beginning of a new era in automated transportation and we’re proud to play a role.”

June 30, 2014

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