Economic Times | By Anumeha Chaturvedi, ET Bureau | 2 Sep, 2015 |
NEW DELHI: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has placed his bets on skyTran, a pathbreaking transportation company which is cofounded by Indian engineer Ankur Bhatnagar. Bhatnagar, a BTech engineer from IIT-Roorkee and an MTech from IIT-Kanpur is the sole Indian cofounder of skyTran, a Nasa Space Act company which is headquartered at the Nasa Ames Research Center. Bhatnagar told ET that Schmidt has invested an in a Series-A round in skyTran through his venture capital fund, Innovation Endeavors. He declined to reveal the amount invested. The company has developed a “third-generation” Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) technology which hopes to change the face of public transport across the world. Bhatnagar expects it to be operational in India in the next two years and hopes India will emerge as its biggest market. He said skyTran can transport passengers above surface traffic cutting the journey between Mulund and Colaba in Mumbai or Bengaluru airport to Electronic City in 25 minutes. The company is in different stages of negotiations with state governments and is currently targeting PRT opportunities in Jaipur, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Kerala. skyTran will have a network of computer controlled levitating ‘jet-like’ vehicles which will transport passengers above surface traffic. Bhatnagar said he is in talks with states and industrial groups to build networks which can significantly reduce intercity and interstate travel times in India.
“The average speed of travel in cities is expected to be 120 km/hour. That means a user can expect to travel from Gurgaon to Noida in less than 25 minutes, for example. The speed of travel would be 250 km/hour on intercity routes. A journey between Delhi and Chandigarh or Delhi to Jaipur would just take an hour,” said Bhatnagar who is designated as VP for skyTran in India. skyTran had previously received funding from US department of transportation. The company’s inventor is Douglas Malewicki, a graduate of Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and Bhatnagar chanced upon him around ten years ago and later came on board. “I was hoping to start my venture in the public transportation space using mobiles and came across Malewicki’s idea and requested him to take me on board,” said Bhatnagar, who is spearheading business development for skyTran and had previously worked with Wipro and PwC. He further added that the skyTran system can help alleviate deteriorating issues like congestion and pollution in India, and can help India build highspeed rail systems at one third of estimated costs. skyTran routes traffic in small packets, or small vehicles, at high speed just as internet routes data. The company promises all seated travel with no jostling and personalised routes. The vehicle will travel using magnetic levitation over the network on the user’s personalised route directly to the destination non-stop. – Courtesy skyTran | skyTran Team