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Reliance Industries hikes stake in US-based pod car developer SkyTran
Photo Credit: Reuters

Reliance Industries Ltd has increased its stake in US-based SkyTran Inc., a venture-funded technology company that is developing pod car transport systems.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance said in a stock market disclosure it has increased its stake in SkyTran to 17.3%. It did not disclose the financial details.

RIL, through wholly owned subsidiary Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Ltd, had picked up a 12.7% stake in SkyTran in October last year. At the time, it had said it had the option of investing an additional $25 million in the US company.

RIL said its investment in SkyTran is now housed under another unit, Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd.

Founded in 2011, SkyTran says it aims to solve the problem of traffic congestion globally by creating a transport option that is high-speed, scalable and low-cost.

The company, which has partnered with National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the US and Israel Aerospace Industries in Israel, has developed the magnetic levitation technology for implementing personal transportation systems.

The proposed SkyTran network would consist of computer-controlled passenger pods running on its patented Passive Magnetic Levitation technology. It will leverage information technology, telecom, lnternet of Things and advanced materials technologies for the purpose.

Reliance said the investment has been made with the aim of striking an exclusive partnership in India. It will work closely with SkyTran to develop pilot implementations and eventually launch them at scale. The company said it will support SkyTran’s efforts with telecom, IoT, digital platforms, advanced material and electric batteries.

SkyTran was among the three companies picked by the Indian government in 2017 to build pod cars.

Prior to Reliance’s investment, SkyTran raised $9 million in funding, according to business information platform Crunchbase.

RIL has made a number of investments in the technology segment in recent years. In September 2018, for instance, it made a follow-on investment of $8 million in US-based artificial intelligence firm Netradyne Inc. In June last year, Reliance agreed to acquire Radisys Corporation, a US-based open telecom platform solutions provider, for $75 million in cash.

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