SkyTran is a new transportation system in development at NASA Ames Research and other locations. It's a complete re-imagining of travel: vehicles that drive themselves on elevated "guideway" micro-freeways so light they can be supported by utility poles or attached to buildings. SkyTran will have about 200-MPG equivalent energy efficiency, twice the Automotive X Prize requirement. Its elevated guideways can be built quickly, without disrupting neighborhoods. They will cost much less to build and maintain than mass transit lines or freeways, but carry more people.
- SkyTran vehicles will wait like taxicabs at boarding platforms above sidewalks or attached to buildings' upper floors. You just sit down, tell your computer "driver" where you want to go, and relax. It merges onto the elevated micro-freeway and drives nonstop to your destination, then parks itself after you get out.
- With no engine, tires or batteries, a SkyTran vehicle is small, light and aerodynamic. It consumes 1/10 the energy of a car, even at higher speeds.
- Computer-controlled SkyTran vehicles, mechanically locked to micro-freeways (with no intersections) above the traffic, will be much safer than cars. In emergencies, their brakes can stop much faster than a car, since they are protected from weather inside the guideway shell. Because of the closer spacing this permits, a single guideway has the passenger capacity of a three-lane freeway.