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Old February 24th, 2002, 05:08 PM
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Pakis to be replaced ...........

Driver free transport could now be a reality


REUTERS [ SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2002 3:49:12 PM ]

ONDON: A shiny white pod that began road tests this month may well be the taxi of the future.

The pod, known as ULTra -- Urban Light Transport -- could make driver-free transport a reality and not just the stuff of futuristic fantasy.

"It will be the first in the world," said Richard Treychenne, director of business development at ULTra's makers, Advanced Transport Systems Limited.

The pod -- which seats up to four passengers -- is the brainchild of Bristol University's Martin Lowson, who is no stranger to making science fiction dreams come true.

His past projects include the Apollo Moon-landing programme in the United States.

The first stage of the ULTra project will have 30 pods circling the Cardiff Bay area in Wales by 2004 if all goes according to plan, Treychenne said.

Next, the pods would move to the centre of the Welsh capital.

At a maximum of 25 miles (40 km) per hour, ULTra may not reach cosmic speeds but should still speed past cars and buses stuck in traffic.

The battery-powered pods will operate on a single 1.5 metre (five foot) track -- less than half the width of a single lane of road -- and recharge at every stop to keep their energy levels topped up.

Resistant to vandalism, snow, rain and ice, the vehicles will be designed to stop automatically if they sense an object in their path.

SMART TAXIS
ULTra pods could work as an automated personal taxi system. Passengers will "hail" the pod from a designated stop, where they select the required destination along a set route.

When the pod pulls up, the passengers swipe a smart card giving the travel details and ULTra carries them directly to their chosen stop.

Rubber wheels ensure a quiet journey and security cameras at every stop increase passenger safety.

Its designers say ULTra could spell the end of long taxi queues, because passengers would find on-call pods at designated stops at least 80 per cent of the time.

This efficiency would come from a large number of pods in circulation, and by shortened journey times without conventional traffic jams.

CHEAP RIDE TO THE FUTURE?
Advanced Transport Systems estimate that building an ULTra network would cost about one-third to one-half of the amount needed for a light railway.

Connecting Cardiff's city centre to its waterside region is expected to cost £45 million. Old car parks and shops will be converted into express stations for hospitals and other focal points in the city.

The pods will be accessible to the disabled, as well as passengers with bicycles or prams, with lifts taking people up to high-rise stations.

Designers hope that the experience will cost about as much as an ordinary bus journey, or even less if passengers are prepared to share their pods.

Wherever possible, ULTra will run along the ground, but some routes might require tracks to be raised on pillars above roads, creating a truly futuristic look.

"In a modern development like the Cardiff waterfront area we feel that the system will match the architecture very well," said the ULTra design team.
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Old February 24th, 2002, 05:12 PM
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Re: Pakis to be replaced ...........

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Originally posted by Parashuram
Pakis to be replaced ...........
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