Climate Solution presented by:
City & Urban PlanningTravelDevelopmentConsumerTown & Urban PlanningTransport & Mobility

Magnetic levitation instead of wheels

skyTran, a NASA Space Act company, headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Center near Mountain View, California, is a patented, high-speed, low-cost, elevated Personal Rapid Transportation (PRT) system. The skyTran network of computer-controlled, 2-person “jet-like” vehicles employs unique, state-of-the-art, SkyTran Magnetic Levitation (STML) technology. skyTran moves passengers in a fast, safe, green, and economical manner.


Detailed Solution description

skyTran is a “Next Generation PRT System” that benefits from the lessons of first and second generation PRTs. Thirty years of operation of the Morgantown system has demonstrated that the use of wheels is a major technical weakness in PRT design. Wheel maintenance is a major operational cost as wheels are subject to constant friction, wear, and periodic failure.

Furthermore, the use of wheels limits the safe maximum speed and, therefore, the range of the vehicles is limited to local areas. skyTran addresses this problem by using magnetic levitation (maglev) instead of wheels.

skyTran has successfully demonstrated that its unique passive magnetic levitation systems can be commercially deployed. In skyTran’s maglev system there is no physical contact between the vehicle and the guideway so there is nothing to wear out or fail. When combined with a tested and proven high performance linear synchronous motor, skyTran’s maglev system makes safe, reliable high speed travel possible at up to 150 mph (240 kph).

This rapid transporting allows for large local, regional, and national networks to be built.

Co2 Comparison

Congestion and Pollution

   The solution

The features

Launch Date

Implementation began on

May 4th 2015

Project in progress with preliminary experiments since


Solution Partners

Israel Aerospace Industries as industrial partner

Weak points for Solution deployment

The difficulty of people to really understand the system and its benefits

Key figures illustrating Solution deployment and results

Skytran emit 1 to 2 gr of Co2 per passenger kilometer, while electric vehicle and gas car emit 1 to 4 gr/PKT, and train between 35 and 350 gr/PKT.
Data from Chester & Horvath (2 difference papers), Environmental Research letter, a publication of Britain institute OF pHYSICS, 4 _ 2009, 5 - 2010

Performance, impact and results

1 2 gr of Co2 par passenger kilometer

Personal Rapid Transport - PRT

50 watt hours per mile per passenger versus 170 watt hours for the London Underground

Nasa space technology