|Advanced Urban Transit for the Seattle region|
Leading PRT Systems
There are many companies and individuals working separately to design
PRT systems that could provide personalized public transit in cities.
These efforts are located around the world in North America, Europe, and
Asia. We have selected the following systems as the most promising,
with the best chances of being ready in the next 5 years to be considered for
use in Seattle.
Ultra (originally ULTra, Urban Light Transport) began as the Advanced Transport Group at the University of Bristol, and then spun-off to become Advanced Transport Systems. A demonstration and testing facility was constructed in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, in 2002, and opened in 2003. Approval was subsequently granted from the UK rail safety agency.
Ultra was developed with funds from the British government's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Environment,Transport and the Regions, and the county government of Cardiff. The airport company BAA (formerly British Airports Authority) became a major investor in 2005. Previously, the European Union also favorably evaluated Ultra under the program Evaluation and Demonstration of Innovative City Transport (EDICT), seeking to identify new and sustainable forms of transit.
A pilot installation with 18 vehicles opened in 2011 at Terminal 5 at BAA's Heathrow Airport. Based on this success Ultra is now being considered by cities around the world.
Vectus is a relatively late entry in the PRT field. The system calls for four-person vehicles, propelled by linear induction motors installed in the slender, minimalist guideway.
Vehicle navigation and control systems have been developed, and a full-scale test facility operated in the university town of Uppsala, Sweden (right).
Vectus is part of POSCO ICT, a division of South Korea's POSCO, one of the world's largest steel manufacturers. In recent years the company has sought to move beyond steel, and is focusing on a long-term strategy of developing high quality products requiring advanced technology and expertise. POSCO made the decision to enter the PRT field in 2002. It tested in Sweden in order to win regulatory certification for the European market.
The first Vectus system opened to the public in South Korea in the fall of 2013.
Masdar is an extensively-publicized strategy to transform the economy of Abu Dhabi from oil to renewable energy. The project has started investment, projected to reach $22 billion, in wind, solar, waste-to-energy, and other "future energy" technologies.
The "star" of the project is Masdar City, a 2.5 sq. mi. new town with 50,000 residents, including corporate and academic tenants from all over the world, which is to be a real-world proving ground for the new technologies.
A goal of Masdar City is to be aggregately zero-carbon and zero-waste, and conventional cars will be banned. At least initially transportation is being provided by a PRT network, a collaboration of 2getThere of the Netherlands (control/navigation), Italian car designer Zagato (vehicle), and CH2M Hill (system integration).
The system runs in a utilities & infrastructure space underneath the city's first segment, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. There are 13 vehicles which began public operation in November 2010.
The underground PRT network was to grow to 3000 vehicles serving 83 stations, placing all destinations within 200 meters of a station. However, the global real estate bust, that began with the 2008-2010 recession, caused the utilities & infrastructure space to be canceled going forward.
In early 2018 it was announced that a 1 km extension would link Masdar Institute to a new mall as well as International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters. However, it will use vehicles by the French company Navya, which was founded in 2014. Masdar
↑ Photo: The National
↑ Photo: Arend Kuester
↑ Photo: Imre Solt
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