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Heathrow moves forward with pod cars

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 02:00

Sept. 26 - Laser-guided pods land at London's Heathrow Airport, allowing travellers to shuttle between terminals in futuristic fashion. Ruairidh Villar reports

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60 years in the making, but on track at last for this British invention -- a driverless, battery-powered, laser-guided pod. These podcars shuttle passengers from car park to terminal at London's Heathrow airport. Half a century ago a network like this was just a dream for British engineers. Now, for the first time, it's a reality. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AIR PASSENGER AND MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT FROM SWEDEN, SAYING: "It's a bit like a ski lift, those 'egg lifts', but much more modern. I think they're brilliant. Very good." (SOUNDBITE) (English) CLIVE BURNET, AIR PASSENGER AND TECHNICAL MANAGER FOR HEAVY COMMERCIAL VEHICLE MANUFACTURER FROM UK, SAYING: "No waiting around for buses like you normally have to do at Heathrow. Very efficient and clean." Engineers are hoping that is the secret of the podcar. Heathrow says it will save 50,000 shuttle bus journeys every year, cutting those carbon emissions to zero and waiting times to an average of 30 seconds. But it's not just at this airport that podcars are taking off. With shrinking space for railways and roads already full, Indian cities like New Delhi and Amritsar are now looking to pods to keep their people moving. Fraser Brown is the managing director of podcar maker ULTRA PRT. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRASER BROWN, MANAGING DIRECTOR ULTRA PRT, SAYING: "You know this airport does about 70 million passengers and we're able to fit in this infrastructure here at Terminal 5 around an existing terminal, an exiting runway and across a river and a road. We're taking lots of journeys off Heathrow's congested roads, and we can see that translating into an urban environment in India where we can take lots of traffic off the roads and deliver a better experience for commuters in an Indian environment." VILLAR PTC: "Pod like these may look like something out of Science Fiction, but British inventors will be hoping they're the very real future of transport -- not just at London's Heathrow airport, but in congested cities across the globe. Ruairidh Villar, Reuters."

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Heathrow moves forward with pod cars

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 02:00