Blog line is pleased to announce that Swyft Cities has won the blog line Sessions: Mobility 2022 pitch-off and will soon be included in the Battlefield 200 at blog line Disrupt in October. Beyond Aero is second.

The Mountain View-based company is committed to improving transportation using autonomous, lightweight, fixed-cable vehicles. The company says its solution offers a lower cost per kilometer with fewer CO2 emissions than conventional transportation alternatives.

Swyft sees this as a new form of urban mobility that can solve transportation problems in densely populated areas, including corporate campuses, airports, universities, and tourist districts.

The platform is new as the vehicles move on a stationary cable, allowing new connections to be added when needed. This adds capacity to an area, allowing for higher density and more profitable developments. It also reduces the cost of parking and traffic restrictions. In some regions, providing connections within site can be of high value.

Beyond Aero, based in Paris/Toulouse, France, builds long-haul aircraft powered by hydrogen-electric propulsion. The first aircraft is a private zero-emissions (6-9 seats) aircraft designed for hydrogen propulsion, with a range of 1,000 miles.


Why Swyft was the best choice

The judges for the pitch-off – were Yoon Choi (Muirwoods Ventures), Mar Hershenson (Pear VC) and Gabriel Scheer (Elemental Excelerator) on day one; and Sven Strohband (Khosla Ventures), Victoria Beasley (Prelude Ventures) and John Du (GM Ventures) on day two – largely thought Swyft Cities had good direction and a very capable team. The jury said Swyft is approaching a growing problem with a new solution and a brilliant go-to-market strategy.

Swyft Cities was founded in 2019 by some of the Google alums who have been behind transportation and real estate programs on Google’s campuses. They were tasked with exploring new forms of mobility that could help realize what the startup now calls “district-scale transportation” in a way that both reduces car use and creates a better campus environment. The team, which included Swyft founder and CEO Jeral Poskey, reviewed ideas such as underground tunnels and autonomous shuttles but found that most infrastructure solutions today are built for long-distance commuting, not short-distance travel. in densely populated environments.

“If you try to compact things up, you have a lot of congestion and difficulty getting around, and this is true of a lot of universities, airports, and other places within a scale of one to five miles,” Poskey told blog line, noting that it closed. Are campus environments that Swyft focuses on first? “Given the growth we looked at and all the market opportunities around the world, we took a chance, started an R&D project to see what we could come up with, and we came up with Swyft.”

Since its inception, Swyft has set up an R&D center in Christchurch, New Zealand, conceived a minimally viable product, and signed the first customer agreement. The startup is now working with Remarkables Park in Queenstown, a large office, retail and residential space, to develop a network of autonomous gondolas. Swyft aims to have the first vehicles operational by August 2024, Poskey said.

†[The team at Remarkables Park] has a first small leg connecting a few buildings and a parking lot, and the goal is to test it out and prove it,” said Poskey. “They then have subsequent phases where this will get bigger and bigger, eventually expanding beyond their property until it becomes a public transportation system that is on top of or complementary to what is currently a tough public transportation environment there, and real people from these scattered areas on the fringes of the city in the bus system that can take people to the heart of the city.”

This model is how Swyft sees itself scaling in other environments and cities. Starting small makes it easy to expand, says Poskey, explaining that the Swyft system doesn’t have a terminus like a train or even a traditional gondola system but operates on a network that can grow outward from any node, allowing added value. So while those connections may start in smaller environments, as they extend outward, they will be able to connect more easily to other forms of public transportation.

From a price point of view, these gondolas cost significantly less than other public transportation alternatives, such as expanding roads and building more parking spaces, according to Poskey.

“We’ve hit the price and value proposition of saying this is cheaper than building parking lots, and you get a better campus experience from it,” Poskey said. “You get a better property that’s more valuable, and you’ve spent less money making that happen.”

Swift’s target cost is $10 million per mile or less for the infrastructure, which Poskey says will allow the private sector to build it themselves rather than wait for government funding.

“That was the real impetus for saying that this is bigger than just something Google should develop on its campuses,” Poskey says. “This has huge potential, is very sustainable, and just needs to be spun out to enter the wider market on its own.”

This story has been updated with more background information on Swyft Cities.


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