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PHOTO CAPTION: Masdar PRT Prototype. Photo credit: Masdar

Two Start-ups Demonstrate Personal Rapid Transit

Small, automatic electric vehicles will be demonstrated in two new projects.

Published: 09-Feb-2009

By Kevin Bullis

A novel kind of transit system, in which cars are replaced by a network of automated electric vehicles, is about to get its first large-scale testing and deployment. Two of these Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) systems are being installed this year, one at Heathrow International Airport, near London, and one in the United Arab Emirates, where it will be the primary source of transportation in Masdar City, a development that will eventually accommodate 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses and is designed to emit no carbon dioxide.

PRT systems are supposed to combine the convenience and privacy of automobiles with the environmental benefits of mass transit. Automated electric vehicles, or pods, each designed to carry from four to six people, wait at stations throughout a city or development, like taxis waiting at taxi stands. A person or group gets in a pod and selects a destination and the vehicle drives there directly.

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