For none of those tracking (actively or passively) the SkyWay project development it is a secret that the Australian delegation headed by Rod Hook visited the Republic of Belarus, which is hosting the SkyWay EcoTechnoPark (test center for examination and international certification) construction. Just two years ago, Rod was the South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) CEO. Later on a SkyWay distinguished employee, Lyudmila Hughes (for which our entire team feels deep gratitude for her) managed to spark his interest in the project, and Rod first became an investor, and then the Director of the newly established company "SkyWay Transport Australia". Immediately upon his return from the business trip Rod shared fresh impressions about it with the Australians, who turned out to have been closely following his visit. In his release Rod writes that after returning from another week with colleagues in Belarus, he continues to be excited and encouraged about the potential for SkyWay technology in Australia, and challenged about the task ahead of his team.
Therefore, Rod, his business partner Maree Wauchope and two engineers departed for Belarus on June 12. The visit’s prime goal was to see if other engineers from Australia were able to be as convinced as they both were about the credibility of the SkyWay team and its inventor Dr Anatoly Yunitsky and potential for application of the technology in Australia. Mission accomplished. The two engineers embraced the opportunities as enthusiastically as both Rod, Maree had, and they will continue to be involved with the latter on the exciting initiative for their country.
Their second aim was to advance the understanding of the engineering and commercialization issues. Rod admits he thought he understood a lot about the engineering last time. Now he understands so much more.
Thirdly, they were presented with an impressive level of concept design documentation for the project at Flinders University. Our Australian colleagues look forward to reviewing this with officials from the University in the next few days. After having dwelled on the details of this project, Rod projects his thoughts forward to another one: a clear commission to proceed with establishing a SkyWay test site at a location in Australia, with an associated assembly/manufacturing facility and offices.
In his release, Rod shares plans for the SkyWay promotion in his country, getting ready to present the potential of (from now on) our common project to colleagues throughout Australia. He also firmly believes SkyWay offers Australia innovative technology for the future, which can transform Australia's travel needs with more cost effective solutions it badly needs. Rod also notes that our solutions are safer and more environmentally aware as compared to the current transport system. He writes that we offer fully automated driverless, energy efficient rolling stock; moreover, the opportunity for these to be assembled in Australia is on the table, which means local jobs. All this comes from Belarus, a place Australians have probably underestimated and undervalued in previous years. Belarus was truly the heartland for heavy industrial activity and manufacture for the former Soviet Union. The country has modern roads and infrastructure in some respects even better than experienced in Australia. Moreover, the country exports to the world. In Rod’s opinion, here is much Australians could learn from their colleagues in Belarus. He reckons there is not much talked about doing in Australia that they are not already doing in Belarus.
Referring to Anatoly Yunitskiy’s words said to him on this trip, Rod agrees that Australia should not be trying to play catch up and seeing if they can mimic what others are already doing around the world. Australia should be looking for solutions that are innovative and involve new technology. They should be aiming to be the first and leaders in a new space. This is the opportunity, which SkyWay offers his country.
Rod finishes his publication with the question: is Australia ready? He responds with his hope for the future of the country’s children and grandchildren, which requires the need to move forward boldly to embrace a new era in transport for all Australians.
I interviewed Rod Hook, and below I present to our readers this conversation, which complements his already published impressions of the trip.
“Q: Have your feelings about the Project changed after the first visit? If yes, then how.
A: When we first became aware of Dr Yunitsky and the SkyWay technology a little over a year ago, we were interested enough to make contact and follow that through to see where it took us. We decided last year we had to go to Belarus to meet the team face to face and investigate this opportunity first hand. We left last September after our first visit excited about the potential of SkyWay and its possible application into Australia. We were keen to return and bring with us some additional engineering expertise from Australia to check whether they would be as impressed as we were about Dr Yunitsky’s work. This worked a treat. We now have a major engineering firm onside with us wanting to be involved as well. I must also say, although I thought I learned a lot last September, I learned so much more this time. We are even more excited and challenged by the scale of the opportunities before us.
Q: Have you felt the appreciation of your involvement in the Project by the Belarus party?
A: The hospitality we have received from Anatoly, Victor, yourself and the whole team has been brilliant. We feel so spoilt. We only hope we can suitably return the favour when you visit us in Australia. It is also very encouraging for us to get a glimpse of the interest in our visits through e-mail, YouTube and social media.
Q: How did you like the people that you met over there?
A: We have loved meeting and interacting with all the people we have met in the SkyWay office in Belarus. They are all incredible, lovely, friendly and professional. We also appreciate the way the office in Belarus operates. The culture is positive, it is a happy environment and everyone we have met in the office is proud to be a part of the SkyWay team.
Q: How do you assess the professionalism of specialists working for your Belarusian counterpart?
A: The professionalism starts with Anatoly. He is an impressive, intelligent and dedicated man. This flows through to the whole team. The engineers, the architects, the IT team, the marketing team, the financial team. I could go on. Everywhere we go, every person we meet. We are impressed and delighted to be associated with you all.
Q: Is Belarus fit for the modern innovation and technology world? Can it be a worthy partner of Australia’s?
A: I do not think Australians really understand much about Belarus and its potential. We have lost much of our manufacturing in Australia because we cannot compete with costs in Asia. Yet we see Belarus with a thriving heavy industrial presence still exporting to the world. In many respects, Australia is trying to embrace and catch up with technological advances in Europe and other places. The danger for us is that we just try and do what others are already doing. What I am excited about with SkyWay is that it is innovative and it is new. Australia has an opportunity to partner with Belarus on a new technology for the world. The real question is, will Australia embrace this opportunity and be a worthy partner for Belarus?
Q: How do you assess the caliber of Australian Skyway operations to follow up your visit? What are your plans for the future?
A: We have agreed with Dr Yunitsky that we need to consolidate a site and make arrangements for a SkyWay test track to be built in Australia. We will be delighted to invite Dr Yunitsky and relevant members of his team to Australia to supervise that project. We will be accessing the design expertise in Belarus and ensuring we have the designs verified in Australia. We have high quality colleagues in Australia who we can call upon to assist. We will also continue to develop the contacts we have with potential clients with a view to agreements for future projects.
Q: Are you apprehensive, or inspired by what is to come?
A: Both. I am impressed and inspired by every contact we have with our colleagues in Belarus. I think we can also be a little apprehensive as the opportunities are great and the task ahead of us is huge. We are excited.
Q: Do you believe the first track of the test site will be launched by the end of the year? If yes, do you plan to visit this country for this end again?
A: I am looking forward to seeing the launch of the first track at the test site in Belarus later this year. I think the world is waiting to see SkyWay at work. I intend to return to be a part of the launch. It will be a privilege to do so.”
Rod Hook’s publication and interview are both eloquent enough and they do not require comments. Instead, the author of this article has the question in mind: why Russia does not need all that the distant Green Continent does, which has managed to notice the SkyWay potential half the world away?!
Head of information services for international group of companies SkyWay