Travelers to London are in for a green transportation treat when traveling from terminal to terminal. The ULTra PRT, by Advanced Transport Systems LTD, is a Personal Rapid Transit vehicle which has the potential to change the way that we travel within cities (and more specifically, airports in this case) around the world. The four-person vehicle itself is battery powered and centrally-controlled (no need for human drivers!), moving on its own elevated guided lane within the airport.
At the moment, the length of the Heathrow airport network is just about 2.2 miles (3.5 km), just long enough for you to get from the terminal to the car park. Don’t think of it as a bus or tram, but rather more like a taxi. If the pilot program is successful, the network will be extended. The maximum speed of the vehicles is 20mph. The Heathrow network will move about 11,000 passengers per day.
According to the manufacturer, the podcars are extremely energy efficient. and produce about 20% CO2 of what a normal vehicle would use. The catch? it is a very expensive system, costing about 6 to 10 million dollars per mile. Is it an idea worth exploring? The Swedish city of Saguna seems to think so, as they have commissioned a feasibility study of an 82km network based on the Skycar system, a competitor of the ULTra.