London's Heathrow Airport is set to install the world's first Personal Rapid Transport system. The PRT is a fleet of 18 driverless pods for business passengers flying out of Terminal Five, with installation scheduled to be complete in less than two years. Traveling at up to 25mph, the pods will ferry passengers rapidly between their cars and terminal check-in. The airport claims there will never be more than an 18 second wait, no delays due to congestion and no need to consort with the rest of the riff-raff from steerage. It's likely this new PRT system will be the first of many, as local governments seek to replace car use within city centers.
The chief benefits of PRT are obviously the reduction of waiting times and overcrowding — it eliminates the need for a fixed timetable — door-to-door service, privacy and security. Predictably, its environmental credentials are also being touted, PRT creates zero local emissions and overall uses 50% less energy than an equivalent bus system.
The system's main drawback is that it necessitates installation of guide ways separate from existing roads or pedestrian walkways. Because of this, its inventors, Advanced Transport Systems Ltd, envision it complementing, rather than replacing, existing form of mass transit such as the London Underground. [Advanced Transport Systems Ltd via BBC News]