Monday, December 5, 2011

Personal Rapid Transit Developer Declares Skytran a "Sham"

UPDATE: PRT gets a swift kick in the pants at the Gondola Project blog:

The fundamental logic behind PRT is quite simply flawed with most advocates of the technology blind to the economic and technological limitations of it. But that doesn’t prevent it from being continually trotted out as transportation messiah.

Read on...

Last week I reported on the pod promoters circular firing squad, now another pod promoter has entered the fray.

Katie Fehrenbacher reports on the latest PRT boondoggle to go belly-up. What's different about this gadgetbahn debacle is it was killed on the drawing board by its own inventor:

The founder of, Aaron Patzer, has been researching alternative urban transportation under a company called Swift over the past six months, but he has determined that the personal maglev system he had been envisioning is economically not viable for a company to produce. Patzer described all of his findings and development in a blog post (hat tip to Tech Crunch), including the high economics of such a transportation network.

In the end Patzer concludes what Vukan Vuchic, Michael Setty and I have said for years - it's just not feasible.

Patzer says he has abandoned building the project as a company. He calls the failure “fast” and “worthwhile fun” and will be looking for his next venture. He also splits his time as VP of Product Innovation at Intuit, which bought Mint two years ago for $170 million, points out Tech Crunch.

With that kind of dough, Patzer can afford to waste his time on pie-in-the-sky fantasy transport concepts, but not federal, state and local governments. MnDOT commissioner Tom Sorel is rumored to be considering wasting $1.6 million on a PRT study. Sorel should just read Patzer's analysis why PRT is a waste of time.

Not content to deep-six his own flawed concept Patzer goes on to trash Skytran In the comments:

I’ve met with the SkyTran people. In my opinion it’s a sham that’s gone no where in the 15 years they’ve been advocating for it. If you look at their website, they claim things like runs on the power of two hairdryers (let’s say 3kW). Obviously they’ve never done even the basic energy calculations – you burn far more than that in aerodynamic drag at even automobile (100km/hr) speeds, even if you have a perfect drag coefficient (0.06 for a streamlined body), and a cross sectional area of less than 1m^2. They also claim capacities equivalent to 3 lanes of highway. Ridiculous to anyone who’s built a true physics based simulator (as I did with Swift).

For more about Skytran, read:

Meet Jerry Sanders - Personal Rapid Transit & Gynecology Gadget Entrepreneur

Wacky Skytran Pod People Invade Detroit, Australia and Canada

Skytran is featured in this video titled "Phoenix light rail is Trash!":

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