Mukesh Ambani goes back to the future – The Latest Investment in a pod taxi tech company
Mukesh Ambani has but once more displayed his seriousness in direction of know-how however consultants consider it could be too quickly to name his oil-to-telecom conglomerate “tech-first.”
On Feb. 28, Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) stated it had purchased an extra stake in skyTran, a US-based firm that has developed a know-how for working pod taxis, for $26.76 million (Rs196 crore). RIL had first picked up a 12.7% stake in skyTran in 2018 and acquired some extra shares of the corporate in 2019 and 2020. With the current deal, RIL’s stake in skyTrans stands at 54.5%. All these investments have been accomplished by way of RIL’s subsidiary Reliance Strategic Enterprise Ventures.
This curiosity in skyTran is consistent with RIL’s elevated give attention to know-how over the past couple of years.
In 2020, the corporate launched a number of tech-first companies, together with its WhatsApp-based grocery retail enterprise JioMart and a Zoom-like video calling app known as JioMeet. The corporate additionally roped in traders like Fb and Google for its know-how enterprise Jio Platforms, which dabbles in a bunch of new-tech segments reminiscent of cloud, media, digital commerce, monetary companies, gaming, schooling, healthcare, agriculture, e-governance, and good cities.
However consultants say it’d nonetheless be too early to name RIL a tech-first enterprise. “It’s a stretch to name RIL a tech-first agency. They’re nonetheless very a lot a tech-wannabe agency,” stated Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, director of analysis at Fletcher’s Institute for Enterprise within the International Context at Tufts College.
In the meantime, within the press launch to announce the current skyTran stake purchase, Ambani stated his firm was dedicated to “investing in constructing futuristic applied sciences that might rework the world.”
Founded in 2009, California-based skyTran has reportedly been incubated on the Nationwide Aeronautics and Area Administration (NASA), an impartial company of the US federal authorities chargeable for the civilian house programme. The corporate has developed a magnetic levitation and propulsion know-how for implementing private transportation programs that it says can clear up the issue of street visitors congestion globally.
“The proposed skyTran transportation programs would encompass computer-controlled passenger pods working on its state-of-the-art, patented Passive Magnetic Levitation know-how and would use innovative IT, telecom, loT and superior supplies applied sciences to move passengers in a quick, secure, inexperienced, and economical method,” the RIL press launch stated. “Additionally it is supported by notable world enterprise capital traders reminiscent of Innovation Endeavors.”
skyTran’s know-how can be utilized in a pod taxi, which is sort of a driver-less cable automotive that runs on electrical energy. Sometimes a pod can accommodate as much as six folks at a time.
In 2018, a source-based report in Mint newspaper had stated that RIL was near finalising a website for India’s first pod taxi prototype. The corporate has not but made any official bulletins a couple of pod taxi plan.
In India, the idea of pod taxis initially grabbed consideration in 2017 when NITI Aayog, the federal government assume tank, cleared the centre’s proposal to check three fast transport programs with using pod taxis. Specialists, nonetheless, are uncertain about how profitable a pod taxi might be in fixing India’s street congestion drawback.
“It’s one factor for such a know-how to work in a sparsely populated southernmost metropolis in Israel and in a spot like Dubai the place there may be ample land and an urge for food for experimentation,” Chaturvedi stated. “It’s a completely totally different problem to make such know-how work in densely populated Indian cities.”
Nonetheless, if Ambani does handle to launch pod taxis in India, it is going to be one other feather in his hat of tech-related achievements.
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