Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City will be chock full of super-green technology by the time it’s finished–building facades that adjust to capture sunlight, wall surfaces that adapt to changing temperatures, and the Persian Gulf’s first geothermal facility are just a few examples of what the carbon-neutral development has in store. But perhaps the most innovative technology to debut in Masdar City is the planned network of self-driving electric cars. Because what’s the point in concentrating on the road if your car can do it for you?
The cars, developed by Dutch startup 2getthere, will be used to shuttle residents and workers in the six square kilometer city. At first, the cars will move between two fixed stations, but eventually Masdar-ites will be able to take the cars between any two buildings. The city has already ordered thirteen cars, including two designed for cargo and two VIP models. Ultimately, Masdar will have 3,000 of the vehicles serving over 85 stations.
Masdar’s futuristic vehicles won’t run on a track. RFID sensors built in overheads and magnetic sensors attached to the roads guide the cars, which automatically stop when pedestrians stand in the road. The battery-powered cars are charged using solar energy stored in battery packs.
There are, of course, disadvantages to the system. The vehicles have a top speed of 25 mph, so anyone trying to get somewhere in a hurry is out of luck, especially since gas-powered cars are banned from Masdar City. This will also be the first large-scale implementation of 2getthere’s personal rapid transit system, and we’re guessing there will be some unexpected kinks to work out. But Masdar is undoubtedly an excellent candidate for a test run–it’s small, well-organized, and hungry for all things new and green.