Last week we looked at the SkyTran personal magnetic transporter system. But while SkyTran is still just a concept, London's Heathrow Airport is pushing ahead with driver-less personal transport pods.
The four-passenger personal rapid transport (PRT) vehicles, unveiled this week at the Science Museum in London, take airport-goers on a special narrow road from Heathrow's Terminal 5 to various parking lots. Passengers use a touch screen to type in their destination, press a start button, and the battery-powered vehicle zips along at 25 mph to their destination. There's a reason the pods look so futuristic--they were designed by Mark Lowson, who worked on the Saturn Rocket that launched Apollo missions.
Only 18 PRT vehicles will be used in the initial $41 million Heathrow run, but if all goes well, BAA will invest an additional $330 million to expand the system hotels surrounding airport terminals. Eventually, it could provide an alternative to city-bound buses and trains. It's a nice idea, but it will run into the same problem as SkyTran's proposed system--cost. BAA may be willing to shell out cash for a Heathrow system, but it's doubtful that city governments will pay for the pods and new road networks for them to travel on.
[Via UK Mirror]