Mukesh Ambani has become Asia’s richest man after overtaking China’s Zhong Shanshan whose company recently lost 22 billion dollars. Now the Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries is all set to challenge the world’s wealthiest person.
Ambani is all set to drive towards a high-tech future with his investment in skyTran, a company with its patented magnetic levitation technology. skyTran’s technology is being used to develop pod taxis.
With this move, Ambani entered into direct competition with Elon Musk, who propagated and owns the idea of the Hyperloop way back in 2013 with the ‘Hyperloop Alpha’ paper.
Ambani Goes Hi-Tech
In 2018, Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) bought a 12.7% stake in skyTran. A year later and a year after that they bought stakes again. Finally, in 2021 Ambani bought additional stakes in skyTran that gave RIL the majority of shares. The additional stakes cost Ambani Rs 196 crore. Reliance Industries limited now owns a 54.5% stake in skyTran.
skyTran is a company based in California, United States that had hatched at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). skyTran is known for developing a magnetic levitation and propulsion technology for implementing personal transportation systems that it claims can solve the problem of road traffic congestion globally. The technology was developed to generate Smart Mobility Solutions.
“skyTran has developed breakthrough passive magnetic levitation & propulsion technology for implementing personal transportation systems aimed at solving the problem of traffic congestion globally,” stated Reliance Industries in a regulatory filing.
All these investments have been done through RIL’s subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures.
Ambani said in the press release that his company was committed to “investing in building futuristic technologies that would transform the world.”
According to RIL “The proposed skyTran transportation systems would consist of computer-controlled passenger pods running on its state-of-the-art, patented Passive Magnetic Levitation technology and would use cutting edge IT, telecom, loT and advanced materials technologies to transport passengers in a fast, safe, green, and economical manner.” They also said, “It is also supported by notable global venture capital investors such as Innovation Endeavors.”
RIL has made it a mission to focus more on technology, recently they also created platforms like Jio mart and Jio meet in order to step forward in that direction. But some experts feel like they are still a tech-wannabe firm and there’s a long way for them to become tech-first.’
Musk’s Hyperloop And Pod Taxis In India
With Ambani investing in a company with pod taxi technology, observers in Business Insider have pointed out that this move can be considered a direct challenge to Elon Musk.
Elon Musk is currently the world’s richest man who owns major companies like SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Paypal, and SolarCity.
What people might not know is that Musk also owns Hyperloop, which is a ground transport that uses magnetic levitation, same as skyTran, and vacuum-sealed tubes to go places.
Pod taxis are also called personal rapid transit that is automated and operates between spaces via a network of magnetic tracks. The speed of pod taxis can go up to 240km/hr theoretically.
Both of the companies are developing pod taxis. Hyperloop already has three projects going on in India for greener and cleaner travel.
Current Hyperloop projects are from Mumbai to Pune, Bengaluru Airport connectivity, and from Delhi to Chandigarh.
The concept of pod taxis aims at reducing carbon emission and saving fossil fuel but along with that it also wants to help with reduction in overcrowding of the road.
It was Nitin Gadkari who first mentioned the idea of pod taxis in India, in 2016. In 2017 NITI Aayog cleared his proposal and tested three pod taxis. The candidates included skyTran among others. The others in consideration used technologies different from levitation using magnets but with Hyperloop entering the Indian scene, there are two pod taxi companies with the same technology.
Unlike skyTran, Hyperloop is already working on projects in India and last year had a successful test run with two human beings in a levitated pod at 160 km per hour.
Our acquiring majority equity stake in skyTran reflects our commitment to invest in building futuristic technologies that would transform the world,‘ said Mukesh Ambani.
He also exclaimed, “We are excited by skyTran’s potential to achieve an order of magnitude impact on highspeed intra and inter-city connectivity and its ability to provide a high speed, highly efficient, and economical ‘Transportation-As-A-Service’ platform for India and the Rest of the World.”
Therefore, unlike the Hyperloop, skyTran will focus more on intercity movement.
With Musk and Ambani both bringing new technologies to India and applying it for a greener and cleaner future, we can expect a great change in the coming years.
“We firmly believe that non-polluting high speed personal rapid transportation system will help facilitate environmental sustainability through efficient use of alternative energy and make an impactful reduction in air and noise pollution,” Ambani added.
There are obviously a lot of doubts and reservations against the development of pod tracks and taxis. The companies have just started creating the product but some feel that this concept isn’t feasible in a highly populated country like India.
Nevertheless, with the global climate changing and the resources running out, we need newer and greener technology.
With an Indian billionaire directly playing the field, we can say that we won’t be left behind when it comes to newer, sustainable options.
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