12 April 2019

SkyWay Innovation Center: When the Word “Unique” Is not an Exaggeration

After all the necessary tools for the development, testing and production of SkyWay ready-made transport solutions appeared at the disposal of SkyWay transport developers, it is the time to come out to the “front line”. In order for Middle Eastern partners to have the opportunity to make sure that SkyWay transport is the best solution available today, the SkyWay Innovation Center (SWIC) in tropical design is being created in Sharjah.

This is not a repetition of what has been done at EcoTechnoPark in Belarus. The Belarusian Innovation Center is designed for temperatures down to minus forty and snowstorms, not for heat up to sixty and dust storms that can cover everything with sand and highly abrasive dust that can penetrate into the smallest crevices in the track structure and in the rolling stock. In Belarus, there is no sea salt in the air and groundwater that can erode any steel structure in a few years. Therefore, demonstration of SkyWay in Belarus is not sufficient to convince a customer of the successful operation of these very elements in the track structure of the overpass type, in rail electric vehicles and in the infrastructure of the “second level” under tropical conditions. In addition, due to the limited size of the test site in Belarus, on short sections of tracks, the length of which does not reach even one kilometer, a maximum speed of 102 km/h was obtained (higher speeds on the sections limited in length can lead to accidents). It cannot convince a customer either that urban and cargo string-rail routes can be safely operated at speeds up to 150 km/h, and under tropical conditions, since the safe length of test tracks in this case should exceed 2 km.

Besides, the test sections built in Maryina Gorka were not originally designed for heavy rolling stock weighing about 50 tons (this is the weight of a heavy tank), but it is such a transport of heavy payload and passenger capacity (trains for 300 passengers or more) that is of greatest interest to our Middle Eastern partners from a number of countries in the Persian Gulf.

The new technological base of the project is one of the components of the big game for the introduction of SkyWay transport solutions into the infrastructure of a large and rapidly developing region. Local partners not only express an active interest themselves, but also attract potential customers from other countries. According to the official news agency of the United Arab Emirates, during a meeting with the Minister of Commerce of the Australian State of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Head of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority told her about the prospects of using SkyWay transport to increase the share of automated traffic.

SkyWay Innovation Center in Sharjah is a research and production cluster in which urban and cargo transport complexes of all types will be presented: mounted and suspended, monorail and double-rail, with a flexible, semi-rigid and rigid track structures, fundamentally improved and modernized, that is, of the next generation - the fifth one. As part of the SWIC, new vehicles and infrastructure solutions will be tested and certified, including a fragment of a linear city with high-rise towers, as well as the creation of its own research laboratories and scientific and technical base with its certification center. Moreover, in the future, the Center should become part of the infrastructure of SRTIP - the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park.

SkyWay Innovation Center in Sharjah will demonstrate not only the rolling stock already tested at EcoTechnoPark, but also new models of rail electric vehicles of the urban and cargo complexes. At the first stage, the new exposed products will be a passenger four-seat unicar U4-431-01 in VIP-design and a cargo unicont designed to carry 20 and 40-foot containers. In the future, it is planned to expand the range of vehicles with new suspended and mounted pods of greater load-carrying capacity, capable of ensuring a greater traffic flow (up to 200 million tons per year) and a greater passenger traffic (up to 50 thousand passengers per hour).

The Innovation Center will showcase various types of track structure and supports. They differ not only visually (for example, for Dubai, the aesthetics of infrastructure facilities is one of the main requirements), but also in terms of carrying capacity, material intensity and construction technology. Large spans will also be presented - up to 1,000 m.

In addition to fully functional test tracks, a full-fledged infrastructure of urban complexes will be implemented onsite SWIC territory, including pick-up stations, turnstiles and a ticketing system.

In order to ensure the development of a network of string roads in the region and around the world, research and development work will be carried out on the basis of the SkyWay Innovation Center. At the American University of Sharjah and the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, it is planned to create a Competence Center, which will train specialists for project designing, engineering, construction and operation of string transport.

Beginning of SWIC


The first phase of SWIC construction is the erection of the first section with a flexible string-rail overpass and a span formula of 100–200–100 meters. This is the analogue of the flexible route at EcoTechnoPark. The overpass and infrastructure of this complex has been significantly improved, its design takes into account and corrects minor “children’s diseases” characteristic for the first samples of the technology.

Besides, the first phase of construction includes an innovative residential module (eco-house) embodying a number of original environmental protection technologies. In addition to demonstrating the new concept of arranging living space, it will be used as the project headquarters in Sharjah, reception of delegations and more. This stage of construction also includes laying of communication lines, construction of auxiliary buildings, a checkpoint and automobile passages needed for work in the further phases of the Innovation Center’s development.

Unicar U4-431-01 will be first pod to demonstrate by SkyWay. Its preparation for shipment from Belarus to the United Arab Emirates is coming to an end: most of the required trials and certification tests are over. This type of vehicle can service passengers at speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour in comfortable conditions, while fuel consumption per passenger will be 0.61 kWh or 0.16 liters of fuel per 100 km, which is tenfold less than that in an average passenger car. Among other things, the new tropical version will have a more powerful cooling and climate control system capable of maintaining the temperature of plus twenty in the cabin at sixty-degree heat.

What difficulties have been passed and what experience has been gained?


In order to understand what comprehensive and complex work is hidden only behind one first phase of construction of SkyWay Innovation Center, it is worth saying a few words about designing this unique object, both for the UAE and for the engineering company SkyWay Technologies. The fact is that the company brought to the United Arab Emirates a huge range of non-standard solutions, which require appropriate adaptation to local legal norms before their implementation. Naturally, typical skyscrapers are easily and quickly built in such a developed country as the UAE. However, the SkyWay wooden eco-house will be the first (!) wooden house in the United Arab Emirates. A building made of renewable resources, that meets the highest requirements of ecology and comfort by its features, was previously impossible in this hot country due to fire safety requirements. But SkyWay Technologies, in close cooperation with local partners, managed to obtain permit and begin construction of this project. Possibly, this will set a new trend in architecture in the Middle East.

And this is just a house. Everything requires additional study and coordination with local authorities - from minor details to large project elements, from unaccustomed British outlets and separate water pipes, which are required in the UAE due to religious reasons, to the construction of supports and tracks. This is a very big job that SkyWay Technologies employees together with colleagues from the UAE did in an incredibly short time.

The construction in the UAE itself is a colossal and necessary experience for the company’s progress. SkyWay Technologies Co. is already perfectly able to operate within the framework of European requirements that are relevant for Belarus. Radically different British and American requirements are in force in the United Arab Emirates and, respectively, all working documentation must be produced in English. Having learned how to work within the framework of this legal field, our professionals can work quickly in almost any country now.

How is the construction going on?


 The current situation at the construction site is as follows: two stations combined with anchor supports are being actively built, two high-rise intermediate supports of a peculiar design have already been prepared for installation. The work is carried out by local contractors under constant control and with the support of SkyWay Technologies. The overpass with a flexible string-rail track structure can be erected fairly quickly, and in Sharjah this is demonstrated in practice - the agreed deadlines are met, despite the new conditions for the company and the shift in start-up work for half a year agreed upon with the customer.

It is planned to complete the construction of the first line of the new Park by late May – early June. This will provide an opportunity to work with Arab partners and potential customers at a new level of understanding of the technology: they will be able to try out SkyWay passenger transport created specifically for them in an unprecedentedly short time period. Thus, we will prove to all existing and potential customers our competence and ability to work quickly and efficiently. They will see not a demonstration test site, but a real infrastructure project in a tropical design with all the needed elements. Thus, just during one year from the moment of signing the first agreements until the completion of the first stage of construction, SkyWay Technologies Co. has developed fundamentally new transport overpasses (pre-stressed uncut of three types), “second level” infrastructure (three types) and rolling stock (rail electric vehicles of several models) fully adapted to harsh natural and climatic conditions of the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, the very process of building the first urban complex took an insignificant part of this time.

What’s next?


In the next stages of construction, four more complexes will be erected in SkyWay Innovation Center in Sharjah (three cargo/passenger complexes and one cargo complex) for suspended and mounted rolling stock. The new products will include heavier load-carrying vehicles, for example, a unicont for transportation of sea containers weighing up to 35 tons, a unitruck with a carrying capacity up to 25 tons, as well as composite unibuses with a capacity of more than 300 passengers. Functioning passenger and cargo stations, a depot for vehicle maintenance and other objects will appear in the Center very soon.

There is a demand for SkyWay technologies in the UAE - this is confirmed by SkyWay cooperation with Dubai’s relevant authority and the encouragement of local authorities, who provided the project with the opportunity to manifest itself in this country. The variety of solutions created and the experience gained in Belarus have become a solid foundation for the development in the United Arab Emirates. SkyWay promotes an integrated approach: the developments include both urban electric vehicles stirring great interest at exhibitions and heavy-duty drones, about which we will soon tell in more detail. All these seemingly secondary developments are organically incorporated into the ecosystem of SkyWay transport and will provide a wide range of transport services at the highest level.

The most difficult part of work in the UAE has already been done: business contacts have been established, SkyWay transport and related solutions have become familiar to local professionals. This means that the construction will go even faster. The next will be SkyWay University, commercial lines, urban and intercity transport networks of string transport, linear cities. Much of what is planned is still classified as “Confidential”.

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