Implications of SkyTran Maglev Personal Transportation

Inventions shape our lives. This site considers the likely effects of the "SkyTran" high-speed personal transportation system invented by aerospace engineer Dougas Malewicki. Computer-controlled "Personal Rapid Transit" systems have existed since the 1970's; London's Heathrow airport Ultra PRT is a successful recent version. However, the maglev PRT SkyTran is a much more radical design we believe will have far more impact:

All this will change our world in ways that will take many decades to play out. Our grandparents knew that cars had changed their world: instead of living their whole lives in one town, they could commute to any job, build their own home in the suburbs, and drive all around the country. We think this invention can change our lives that much.SkyTranSummary

Yet cars continued to reshape the world; a century later the transformations continue, both good and bad. They have changed where people live, how business operates and even family life and the global environment. The Internet and Web have been with us for two decades, and their impact is just beginning to be fully felt. Similarly, it's clear that quick, congestion-free maglev travel will be a dream come true for harried long-distance commuters and people living in smoggy, car-choked cities like Beijing. Yet its full impacts will also take decades to have their full impact -- the long-term impacts of this "physical Internet" could be as profound as either of them.

Remove their traffic jams, parking hassles, and inadequate public transportation, and add high-speed transportation all over them in minutes -- dense cities will be the best place to be -- efficient for working, even manufacturing, and also desirable places to live. You can live in a car-free enclave with the ambience of a small town, but the whole city is just minutes away.

Cities will become increasingly more attractive to businesses, operating in new ways. Employees of a company whose buildings are scattered around the city perceive one "virtual office" linked by SkyTranEqualsElevator. If thousands of vendors can ship and consultants can be on-site in minutes, businesses will out-source more radically, keeping only core functions in-house and proliferating specialized external businesses to serve their needs. Individuals too; why spend hours shopping at stores and lugging packages home, when any business in the city can deliver to your apartment lobby or corner convenience store in minutes? Routine activities, both business and personal, will be replaced by efficient specialized services. A common measure of the degree of civilization, "having a complex division of labor", will leap upward. Dense cities, no longer choked with traffic and pollution, will become more efficient production centers, as well as more desirable places to live.

Suburban life will change as well. Parents won't need to spend hours commuting away from their families. In computer-controlled pods locked into their guideways, commuters and travelers can relax, work or chat by phone without risk of a collision, all while enjoying panaramic views not visible at street-level.

Rural areas too will be transformed by visitors and packages traveling long distances rapidly without a driver. Imagine how same-day online shopping will change life at remote towns and farms! Children with special needs or abilities can reach a suitable school 50 miles away safely and quickly, instead of spending hours on buses. Before his boat reaches port, a fisherman will sell his catch online to ten distant restaurants, who will serve it to diners just hours later.

This site is a forum for informed and logical speculation about the probable social, economic, environmental and other factors of a development we think will be revolutionary. Such a major development deserves to be evaluated from many perspectives. Too often new technology is promoted uncritically, or opposed by reflex; if neither is your taste, read on!

For descriptions of the basic concept and technology, visit their site, Wikipedia and the inventor's personal site for details -- or just Google "SkyTran" for the latest SkyTran news. Then, if you have ideas or opinions to share, please come back and contribute! This site was a wiki from 2006 until spammers made that impossible (2/2015: I had to recover it from versions saved at archive.org -- my tax dollars at work ;-) Send me your contribution including a new page title or existing page where it belongs -- howie dot goodell at gmail -- I'll be happy to plug it in. (If you don't get a response about it, just ping again). Thanks!