Travel

Lucky Israelis to get sky cars that "drive" above traffic

They may not be the futuristic flying cars of The Fifth Element, but the monorail hover pods being tested in Tel Aviv next year may bring us one step closer. Multipass!

Using magnetic technology similar to that found on Japanese bullet trains, California-based company, skyTran, is building a 1/3-mile circuit of airborne, self-driving sky cars on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries. If tests are successful, the company hopes to roll out the system in congested cities around the world.

Theoretically, riders would use their smartphones (tickets cost around $5 each) to arrange for a pod pickup at a designated point before hopping in for a traffic-free ride. The sky cars -- which seat two passengers -- will only reach speeds of 43mph on the test track, but faster models would eventually be offered. 

City experts like Joe Dignan think the sky car trial is a clever move, insomuch as "it will get the market in the mood for autonomous vehicles". He added, the system "is cheaper than building out a train line and uses part of the urban landscape, 20ft above ground, that isn't currently used".

The real questions, though, are can they build enough track, and, even if they make the cars bigger, will they be large enough to really offset traffic congestion? Oh yea, and if you thought scoring a cab on New Year's Eve was a challenge, imagine everyone trying to hail a sky car at the same time. Good luck with all that.

Who knows. Either way, you've got to admit that they look pretty damn slick.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.