Driverless cars haven’t been around for all that long and yet Heathrow Airport in London has taken advantage of the latest technology and already has these pods zooming around from the car park to the terminal. After the initial trials in April, the service became fully operational this summer.
Terminal 5, the newest terminal at Heathrow Airport which is operated by British Airways also comes equipped with twenty-two automated pods in replace of the diesel buses that previously drove in a circle from the car park to terminals stopping for any amount of passengers at various stops.
The electric-powered pods can accommodate up to 4 people and their luggage, carrying over 800 people per day, it travels up to 25 mph along a 2.4 mile long cemented guide. The pods only require a guideline for optical navigation, meaning no magnetic field or railway.
When passengers enter the pod they are in full control of when they move by pushing the “start” button. This ensures efficiency, makes sure no luggage and no one gets left behind as well as prevents the pods from moving when empty.
According to the manufacturer ULTra PRT, American travelers may be able to use these pods soon enough. The systems are under review by airports in California and New York as well as transit systems in areas that experience high volumes of congestion.
These pods are cheaper than any high-speed rail, which makes them appealing to cities where travel cost may be an issue. Passengers will like them for the convenience of not having to read transit tables, and with the customizable guidelines they could even be used on regular roads making the adjustment to driverless cars that much easier for commuters.
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