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While society hasn’t quite reached the point where the Jetson’s could be our neighbors, ULTra’s new driverless pods certainly brings us one step closer to it. First introduced in Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow International Airport as a way of replacing the outdated and polluting diesel bus system, ULTra’s pods have proven to be quite effective at replacing its old counterpart. Prior to introducing the pods, transferring travelers from Terminal 5 to the surrounding parking lots required over 50,000 round trip bus trips annually. Wait times for each bus were normally around 15-20 minutes, and stopping at each parking lot made the already time-consuming trip even slower.

Pitched as a £30 million solution for the terminal, the ULTra system proved its worth quickly. Safety hasn’t been an issue since the introduction of the pods primarily due to the laser guided system used to monitor the pod’s surroundings. Efficiency has increased from a time standpoint, with passengers spending less time waiting and less time riding as a result of the pods ability to bypass unnecessary stops. Environmentally, the pods emit zero pollution onsite. On the whole, taking out the human error factor at Heathrow has created a form of mass transit that is not only safe, but efficient to boot.

Could driverless pods be arriving in your city in the near future?

Amritsar, India, home to a population of 1.5 million, has taken the first steps in securing PRT (Passenger Rapid Transport) for use in the city. The plan includes 7 stations, from the city center to the Golden Temple, the Sikhs holiest temple. Two hundred pods will transport 100,000 passengers daily, with the ability to handle 500,000 during important holiday periods when the area surrounding the Golden Temple is closed down to virtually all vehicular traffic. Tracks have also been fitted to withstand monsoons and pods have new ventilation and air conditioning systems to comfortably transport up to 6 passengers in temperatures up to 122°F or 50°C.

If driverless pods are shown to be effective in cities such as Amritsar, the inclusion of similar systems could be implemented in many cities looking to expand their transportation options with an eye towards reducing emissions.

Read the entire article at: The Atlantic Cities


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