‘Efteling vehicles’ to become the public transport method of the future

Ultra-PodsSustainability is the key issue for public transport companies. In Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom, a neat solution has been invented to achieve this: unmanned futuristic vehicles that run on electricity.

These ‘Ultra Pods’ have been developed by Ultra Global PRT and operate like a metro line. A major difference, however, is that you can decide for yourself where you board a pod and where you get out. You can order a pod and use your smartphone to indicate your destination. The pod will then determine the fastest and safest route and drop you off at your doorstep. The vehicles can accommodate a maximum of four people.

All pods run on electricity. They take power from the electric motor that can be charged at various different stations. Now, the company had to learn how to switch to different electricity suppliers frequently so as to economize on power. This not only makes the vehicles a lot more sustainable, but also much quieter and cleaner than the buses that are currently touring the city. A ride will set you back two pounds sterling.

In case of a problem, the passengers can intervene. As the pods run at a maximum speed of 12 miles an hour (approximately 20 km/h), the risks are not very substantial. If two pods should accidentally collide, the consequences will be minor.

A similar system has been in use at Heathrow airport for almost two years. The new system in Milton Keynes should be up and running by 2015. According to the planning, the pods will be enhanced in 2017 and used across the entire city. The project will require an overall investment of 65 million pounds sterling. If it turns out to a success, the Ultra Pods will also be rolled out in London.

Personally, this brings to mind the vehicles in the Efteling theme park in the Netherlands. It must be great to go to work like this every day!

Phys.org explains how the Ultra Pods work: