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19 October 2017


Expert opinion on string transport

The article (in Russian) in the latest issue of "Quality Mark" magazine

Expert opinion on string transport

Today a unique innovative transport technology - an information, energy and transport communicator of an overpass type based on the string rail technologies - is being implemented in full swing in our country. Its inventor Anatoly Yunitskiy has called the concept "SkyWay String Transport". In fact, it is the transport of tomorrow, a unique transport and logistics system.

The new transport has both enthusiastic admirers and ardent opponents. This, however, does not bother Anatoly Yunitskiy and his team. After all, many scientists and engineers initially did not get support from their colleagues and the scientific community met their ideas with hostility. Later, their projects became revolutionary and radically changed the technological foundations together with the standards of living.

SkyWay is an elevated rail system designed for the unibus - steel-wheeled rolling stock - movement. Pre-stressed strings are placed inside the rails making them extremely durable and flexible. The complex features exceptional technical characteristics: high speed, safety, environmental friendliness and its main advantage - low cost.

An unbiased assessment of specialized professionals helps to make a sober estimate of the innovative project. Indeed, any know how is subject to discussions on the Internet, with dozens of couch experts giving their opinions; therefore, it is often problematic to figure out where the truth is. We contacted the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation in Novosibirsk, whose good reputation is well-known abroad. The recognized experts in the development of electric passenger transport work there. Mr. Mikhail Nikulin, a representative of the Novosibirsk State Technical University, Associate Professor of the Electrotechnical Systems Department, Chief Designer of the Electrotechnical Complexes and Transport Systems Design Bureau, has visited recently the design offices and production facilities of the Engineering Company and got acquainted with the SkyWay EcoTechnoPark. It is worth saying that Mikhail Nikulin is not only an expert in the electric passenger transport - he also takes part in forming the urban transport policy in Siberia being a governmental adviser on innovations in this field. It is quite possible that his detailed acquaintance with the progress in implementation of the string technologies will be a stepping stone towards SkyWay realization in Novosibirsk and elsewhere. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".

Currently, there are no new road technologies either in Novosibirsk or in other regional cities of the Russian Federation, he noted in a conversation with a "Quality Mark" reporter. There is a monorail in Moscow but it is rather an amusement ride, which does not perform a special transport function. There are overpass sections of tramways in a number of cities. The SkyWay technologies are somewhat similar in appearance to cable cars, in which passengers are transported only in pods, as is well known. Laymen believe that such transport is possible to use only for tourist purposes. However, there is a wider application of this technology. In Nizhny Novgorod, for example, there is a similar passenger commercial transport system, which stretches from the site near the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin across the Volga to a nearby city. There are permanent queues of both passengers and cargo, and the system shows a very solid profit. However, this seems to be the only example".

Mikhail Nikulin has visited the production facility of SkyWay Technologies Co. in Shabany, where the basic components of the new transport system are born - a unibike, a unibus and a unicar. By the way, a unicar can be seen at a major exhibition in Minsk in October, whereas a unibus is about to be certified.

In addition, an electric motor testing laboratory - for both known models and own designs - as well as an in-house electric motor shop were demonstrated to the Russian scientist. At present, the SkyWay Technologies Co. facility has two main shops and small production areas. Designers and engineers of the company rely mainly on their own resources.

Some time ago, up to 90% of assemblies and components for various units of the string transport were outsourced, which caused certain problems. Today, the company has a high level of technical infrastructure. There is a range of modern equipment: a laser complex, sheet-bending and profile-bending machines. Own machines have allowed to reverse the situation and rely less on unsuccessful cooperation. Now, the manufactured units are waiting for bench testing.

Mikhail Nikulin admired what he had seen. "This is my first visit to your city. I am very pleased that we have met and hope that we will agree on further cooperation. By the way, we already have a joint venture to assemble urban electric transport," he pointed out.

Speaking about his attitude to the SkyWay technology, the Russian scientist emphasized the fact that the whole structure of transport logistics in large cities is changing today. The string transport technologies, proposed by General Designer Anatoly Yunitskiy, enable integrating logistic hubs into office and residential buildings, entertainment and sports centers, production buildings, etc., being an extremely relevant and popular solution in the field of transportation services.

Developing logistics for the urban string transport is not a challenge - in fact, the difference lies only in terms. Another issue is the solution of practical construction problem. When the post-Soviet states switched to the market way, land plots in cities became very expensive. As a result, the land value makes within 30 to 50% of the total cost of construction. The technology of support and overpass transport is much cheaper.

After getting an insight about the SkyWay EcoTechnoPark, the Russian guest admitted that prior to his visit he had some doubts about the SkyWay caused by online publications. Personal knowledge of the project made all doubts dispel. "Talking to my colleagues, I have always said that I believe in the future of such transport systems. They objected to this saying I cannot believe the picture. Now I have enhanced this faith with knowledge".

Indeed, the future transport lines and infrastructure facilities are now built in the SkyWay EcoTechnoPark. The soil is aligned, lawns and orchards are planted on several hectares. There are vegetable patches of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and even strawberries, environmentally friendly and very tasty. It emphasizes the eco-focus of the project, allowing anyone to make sure of the harmonious coexistence of the state-of-the-art transport and nature. The working prototypes of a fundamentally new rolling stock created from scratch are already in operation.

Today, the creation of any types of urban transport uses the technologies that were called fantastic and unbelievable yesterday, Mikhail Nikulin said. The string transport is based on the same physical laws as other transport modes - the interaction of a guiding element, which can be a rail, a monorail, a cable, etc. In any case, when the speed is increased, manual control becomes unsafe, therefore it is necessary to pass the control function to the machine.

According to Mikhail Nikulin, Minsk today is the leader in urban transport in the post-Soviet area. If the SkyWay technology is implemented here, it will be an impressive breakthrough to the future. Even more so, since talented young people working on this project can create a modern futuristic design for the string transport rolling stock, which "will fit perfectly into the landscape of modern Minsk, and indeed any European city".

Let's look at our everyday trips, - the Russian scientist suggested. - In an ideal scenario, a person should live actively every minute of life. However, most residents of major cities spend 3-4 hours a day in public transport, which is in fact a waste of time. It adversely affects the quality of life causing serious harm to health.

Mikhail Nikulin further noted the environmental friendliness as one of the crucial features of the technology, since the construction of transport overpasses will not disturb the existing natural landscape, which suggests that the surrounding flora and fauna will be preserved. "After all, we borrowed our land from our descendants, and it must be returned in the same form, without taking anything away from the nature".

The construction will not require expensive terrain adjustments for the transport system. On the other hand, it is quite easy to adjust the system to the terrain. The scientist also pointed out other distinctive features of SkyWay - safety, affordability, reliability and high profitability.

The construction of string tracks does not change the environment; however, it creates a kind of a futuristic system. Even if such a track runs alongside a conventional road and a car is known in advance to be faster, most passengers will still prefer to travel by string transport. It is obviously much more pleasant to look at the surrounding landscape from above being in a transparent cabin than through a window of a low-running car, believes Mikhail Nikulin.

Moreover, Mikhail Nikulin highly appreciated the creation of the SkyWay technology as the first stage in developing a general planetary vehicle. He fully agrees with Anatoly Yunitskiy's opinion about the need to remove heavy industry out of the planet to the near space.

During his visit, the Russian scientist repeatedly expressed his satisfaction with the way Anatoly Yunitskiy's ideas are implemented. To the question, "Being a transport innovation adviser, what would you advise to the authorities?" we received a brief reply, "Study and form their own opinion not based on websites or leaflets. Moreover, I will recommend to reserve a part of the funds allocated for promising innovative modes of transport, not just spend them on the existing ones, and to take into account new and emerging technologies in the forecasts up to 2050. It's quite irrational to improve the obsolete".

Yes, we will become leaders, and this is the fact. It is necessary to build millions of kilometers of roads, hundreds of infrastructure facilities. This requires time and a lot of money. However, this will inevitably happen and not only because I think so or I want that, - said Anatoly Yunitskiy in one of his previous interviews. Mikhail Nikulin is equally confident of the necessity to implement the project:

In the Novosibirsk region, some villages are separated from large settlements up to 50 kilometers. The roads are poor, forests, hills, fields... A mobile shop brings food twice a week, at best. This is in summer. Just imagine what happens there in winter considering our Siberian frosts and snowstorms. I imagined that one support could be installed on that hill, on the next one, and a trip to a shop can take ten minutes. The creation of such a transport system can be a real breakthrough. My forecast is that the SkyWay technology can be used massively in as little as 10 years.

Mikhail Nikulin made a number of specific proposals on cooperation in technical, technological and organizational areas between the enterprises of the region he represents and SkyWay Technologies Co. In addition, he advised to show in practice how the transport logistics can transform the remote villages, for example, in the Altai Territory. "Take a simple photo of the terrain, and show the way the supports can be installed - one support here, the next one over there, provide accurate calculations... Take a specific town and demonstrate how you can use the string transport", he said. "Give recommendations and background information for design institutes in terms of what options of the string technologies you offer and for what purposes they can be used. However, it is doubtful that the construction will shortly begin in major cities. The local government is a big business; it will not commit itself to any construction without thoroughly made calculations".

Today, we all need to realize that an innovative transport system, such as the SkyWay, is not just the interaction of guides and wheels - it is the philosophy of space, the philosophy of cities of the future, which must be studied at a completely different level.

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