Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
  Atmosphere
  Biodiversity
  Clean technology and recycling
  Climate & global change
  Cultural heritage
  Earth Observation
  Ecosystems, incl. land, inland waters, marine
  Health & environment
  Land management
  Natural disasters
  Sustainable development
  Urban living
  Other
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Macedonia - former Yugoslav Republic
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


   Environment

Last Update: 17-01-2012  
Related category(ies):
Innovation  |  Industrial research  |  Success stories  |  Environment

 

Add to PDF "basket"

Pop on a pod

They call it the 'Heathrow Pod', and it is a new way of getting around the urban jungle. Rather than waiting for a bus, business travellers just take one a futuristic taxi.

Video in QuickTime format:  ar  de  en  es  fr  it  fa  pt  ru  tr  (11 MB)

Fraser Brown, the managing director of Ultra Global PRT explained: "It's a PRT system - a personal rapid transit system. And what these vehicles do is they work autonomously on a guideway to take passengers from the Business Car Park at Terminal 5 up to the main terminal building, ready for their flight.

"Here you've got a system with 21 vehicles which are working truly on demand. You come up to them, in the same way that you might approach a lift lobby, you press the button and the doors open and away you go."

It has taken a decade of development to perfect the system, with the pods benefiting from input from several EU projects. To make the pods reliable the team uses existing technology, such as regular car tyres.

Adam Ruddle, the head of vehicle engineering at Ultra Global PRT, said: "The batteries we have come from Spain; they were already in production when we talked to the manufacturer. The motors were manufactured in Italy, and were being used on electric vehicles already."

The control room keeps an eagle eye on the pods as they trundle around happily without rails, calculating where they are as they go.

Adam Ruddle explained how that works: "The vehicle measures the rotation of the wheels, so it knows how far it's gone. And then it uses laser sensors to measure the distance to the curbs on either side of the track, and that allows it to recognise its steering position."

Reliability is over 99 percent, but there are still some factors the engineers did not foresee, including the way passengers behave.

Adam Ruddle said: "When we were sitting, working out where to put the buttons inside the vehicle, we all sat bolt upright, very correctly in the seats, and the buttons were in the perfect position. What we find now is that people relax in the vehicles, they turn slightly, they lean to one side, and we end up with shoulders pressing against the buttons."

The Heathrow Pod is unique in Europe. With a smooth guideway and no high voltage cables it is at least three times cheaper than a normal light railway.

Fraser Brown of Ultra Global PRT concluded: "What we want to do going forward is to take technology from other sectors like the automotive sector to really improve the system operability and reduce the cost even further."


Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Futuris, the European research programme - on Euronews. The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

Contacts
Unit A1 - External & internal communication,
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation,
European Commission
Tel : +32 2 298 45 40
  Top   Research Information Center