1 of 10
The Head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, inaugurates Cablebús line 1 in Cuatepec.
(Photo: Headquarters of the Government of Mexico City)
2 of 10
The Mi Teleférico cable in La Paz, Bolivia, with the Illimani mountain in the background.
Photo: PEDRO UGARTE / AFP via Getty Images)
3 of 10
TransMiCable on the Ciudad Bolívar neighborhood in Bogotá.
(Photo: Guillermo Legaria / Getty Images)
4 of 10
Ecatepec aerial cable station, in the State of Mexico, decorated with a mural by the Icelandic artist Guido Van Helten.
(Photo: RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP via Getty Images)
5 of 10
The San Bernardo cable over the city of Salta, Argentina.
(Photo: Juan MABROMATA / AFP via Getty Images)
6 of 10
The Warairarepano cable car over the Petare neighborhood in Caracas.
(Photo: PEDRO UGARTE / AFP via Getty Images)
7 of 10
The Metrocable in Medellín, Colombia, began operating in 2004. (Photo: RAUL ARBOLEDA / AFP via Getty Images)
8 of 10
The Megacable of Pereira, Colombia, passing over guaduales.
(Photo: City Hall of Pereira)
9 of 10
The well-known Bondinho Pão de Açúcar, the Rio de Janeiro cable car, goes up to the tourist hill with a view of the sea and the city.
(Photo: Buda Mendes / Getty Images)
10 of 10
The MIO Cable, cable car in the city of Cali, Colombia.
(Photo: Cali Mayor's Office)
(CNN Business) -
(CNN Business) -
Traffic jams are a problem for cities around the world, with some turning to electric scooters to ease traffic jams, and others to artificial intelligence-powered traffic lights.
But one company believes the solution is to build a network of autonomous high-speed vehicles that travel through cities suspended from a steel track.
In June, Belarus-based uSky Transport launched a 400-meter test line in Sharjah, which borders Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
From the outside, the electric pods are bright white, while the interior is designed to look like a first-class suite, with ambient lighting, soothing music, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
With two padded seats and two folding seats, the test vehicle can carry up to four passengers.
The interior of the uSky capsule being tested in Sharjah, UAE.
According to uSky, a fully implemented citywide network could carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour, with vehicles currently able to travel up to 150 kilometers per hour, although for safety reasons they cannot reach their maximum speed on the test track.
The company says its aim is to free up roads and ground space that could be used for green areas, walks and public leisure spaces.
"The ground is completely oversaturated, and people are tired of traffic jams. People are tired of emissions," says Oleg Zaretskiy, CEO of uSky Transport.
According to uSky, while the construction of a kilometer of subway train can cost up to US $ 150 million, this system costs around US $ 10 million.
And by using fewer structural materials, you reduce carbon emissions.
The company has also developed a similar technology for the transport of cargo containers, which transports up to 48 tons at a maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour.
Make a difference in mobility
Although capsules known as "sky pods" are often compared to monorails or cable cars, they offer more flexibility, says Stephanie Haag, associate partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
"In a cable car, there is a wagon that always circulates at the same speed," he says.
"[In the sky pods] you can use many different cabins in that specific infrastructure", such as those adapted for shorter trips in urban areas or for longer distances.
The uSky capsule is being tested at the Sharjah Innovation and Technology Research Park.
Although he cautions that it would require careful planning to avoid congestion in a busy urban network, Haag believes it could be a widely adopted solution if promises to improve mobility and sustainability are kept.
Future expansion plans
Later this year uSky plans to build a 2.4 kilometer line in Sharjah, which will allow it to run the passenger capsule at higher speeds and demonstrate how passenger and cargo capsules can be integrated into the same network.
According to Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Innovation and Technology Research Park, where uSky's test lines are located, the sky pods are expected to drive the emirate's strategy of becoming a sustainable and futuristic hub.
uSky claims that a camera with artificial intelligence technology helps avoid potential collisions with other vehicles on the road.
With the test line up and running, uSky has also received initial approval to build a line around the coastal town of Khor Fakkan, in the east of the emirate.
The neighboring emirate, Dubai, is also looking into the possibility of building autonomous vehicles that circulate above urban traffic, and other international companies, such as Virgin Hyperloop, are developing high-tech transport projects for the region.
Zaretskiy claims that uSky is not limited to the UAE.
"We see that the most promising areas for us are in the Middle East [and] Asia - places where there is natural population growth ... like India and Pakistan," he says.
Haag adds that the capsules are more suitable for countries where public transport is underdeveloped and there is a growing demand for mobility solutions.
However, Zaretskiy claims that uSky Transport has received requests from countries such as the United States and Canada.
The company expects to close its first commercial contract by the end of the year in Sharjah, Zaretskiy adds, which means uSky capsules could be operating above traffic by 2024.