Each computer-controlled pod holds up to three people. Riders type in their destination and leave the navigating to SkyTran's intelligent software to transport the pod, non-stop and without interrupting traffic flow.
Perkins envisions SkyTran feeding into other regional and local transit systems, such as the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, known as BART, and high-speed rail.
A demonstration system is planned for the NASA Research Park at Ames, a hub for innovative technology that has attracted 15 universities and about 40 businesses, including Google.
"What we see as a beginning is to serve areas that have high traffic that need to get to one point, like downtown to the airport. That would form the backbone," Perkins told Discovery News.
"All networks have humble beginnings," he added.
The pods can be mass produced in factories, which helps to cut costs. Unimodal expects the concept will be so appealing that it could be supported commercially, as opposed to public transportation systems, which typically operate at a loss.