The Japanese startup Zippar’s infrastructure’s vision for traffic-free Asian cities is to develop self-driving aerial tramways.
Founded in 2018 by Takamasa Suchi and Kyohei Yashima, the company plans to submit a bid for its first commercial project in Japan by March 2025.
It has global market aspirations as early as 2029.
Known as Zippar, this innovative transportation solution is designed to navigate complex urban routes, making it an ideal and cost-effective alternative to conventional monorails or railways.
(Zippar’s infrastructure’s vision for traffic-free Asian cities)
The Zippar system comprises self-propelled, battery-powered gondolas that use cables to transport people and freight, effectively supplementing existing major transportation infrastructure.
Each gondola, built from a used Japanese electric vehicle (EV), can hold up to 12 people and run on steel rails and cables, allowing for more intricate routes and lower costs.
The ability to build lines over existing roads without the need for additional land development makes Zippar a particularly attractive option for urban areas where conventional transport is challenging.
Zip Infrastructure’s head of business development, Mario Ian Carlos Ferido Rebonquin, envisions a transport network in countries like the Philippines that rivals Japan’s efficiency.
He identified a 2- or 3-kilometer route connecting the central district of Makati, near Manila, as ideal for the Zippar system.
This business-heavy city has many office buildings but lies between existing railway lines, forcing office workers to walk 20 minutes or drive from the nearest station, ultimately contributing to traffic jams.
Although other startups, such as Swyft Cities in the U.S. and Ottobahn in Germany, work on similar transit systems, Zip Infrastructure claims to have a competitive edge due to its ability to use relatively larger rolling stock.
The company has secured US$1.8 million in funding and is currently testing the Zippar technology in Odawara City, Kanagawa prefecture.
If the testing proves successful, the company aims to implement the system in Japanese cities by 2025, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable and efficient urban transportation future.