London's Heathrow Airport is putting the finishing touches on their new driverless taxi system, which will take a single person or small group to any of the airport parking lots without a driver or rail system. The secret? Really narrow roads.
The 4-passenger ULTra Personal Rapid Transit system can take passengers from Terminal 5 to any of the parking lots around the airport. The rider selects from a touchscreen inside the pod and the special, super narrow roads are flanked with curbs on both sides which keep the vehicle on track to the intended destination.
Designed by Mark Lowson, these pods run solely on battery power with an equivalent carbon footprint of a 100mpg car, and travel at 25 miles per hour. Lowson also had a hand in the development of NASA's Saturn rockets.
In some ways, it's like a primitive realization of the ATNMBL concept designed by the Google G1 Phone guys. Although it's dumbed down and stripped of luxury in comparison.
If the the 18 car, $41 million dollar system works out, the British Airports Authority (BAA) will provided an extra $330 million to expand into the other terminals and nearby hotels. And apparently, ULTra could also be easily integrated into the outside world as well, able to take travelers to their destinations with relatively minimal upgrades. However, Fast Company believes there would be too much political/financial red tape involved for these to make it into cities anytime soon.
Disney's People Mover put to real life use.
If one pod breaks down mid-trip (and you know it will happen), is it possible to detour around the breakdown?
In this initial implementation there will only be limited opportunities for vehicles to bypass a breakdown. In a larger system, like that planned if it is decided to expand ULTra to other parts of Heathrow, there is more guideway and therefore many branches; vehicles can be routed down a different branch and still arrive at their desired stop. If their stop is on a branch with a brokendown vehicle, re-routed vehicles will go to the next-closest stop.
if these pods have thier own road then there no better than trains on train tracks.
Could you please change "Mark Lowson" to "Martin Lowson." That would be greatly appreciated.
ATS ULTra's North American web can be found at: http://www.ultraprt.com/
* take a Heathrow ULTra tour
* find out about system customizations
* read the 20-page detailed system description
* view the latest Heathrow ULTra photos
* learn about proposed systems for San Jose Airport, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Ithaca, etc.
* understand "cost-per-mile" ($7M to $15M)
Ooh and yes this is cool! I have also read that there are proto type cars that look a bit like a large golf buggy. They run on hydraulic pumps and are going to be introduced into some airlines in the coming year. Very interesting technology. As I work at a <a href="http://www.relaxcarhire.co.uk/">Heathrow Airport Car Hire</a>, I am actively watching closely with the changes to transport not only in the airports, but how that may eventually lead to a change in our road transport.
Proto type cars this company will go bust London is full of transit minibus systems . What ever they run on its going to be very expensive. As i work for the www.london-minibus.co.uk we deliver the passengers in our minibuses right inside these airports.
In this initial implementation there will only be limited opportunities for vehicles to bypass a breakdown. In a larger system, like that planned if it is decided to expand ULTra to other parts of Heathrow, there is more guideway and therefore many branches; vehicles can be routed down a different branch and still arrive at their desired stop. If their stop is on a branch with a brokendown vehicle, re-routed vehicles will go to the