Robotic Personal Transportation System

Robotic Personal Transportation System
We all know about mass transit systems like buses and trains but how about a personal transit system which can drive several passengers over a relatively short distance quickly and at a high frequency. The British company ATS (Advanced Transport Systems) created a robotic transport system named ULTra (Urban Light Transport) which can carry up to four passengers at a time to a distance of several kilometers.

The ULTra vehicle will be powered by a battery pack providing an average 2KW of motive power. The ULTra travels at 25 mph (40 km/h) and for a typical 1 mile (1.6 km) journey, the time taken is approximately 3 minutes. According to ATS, cars in cities average 12 mph (20 km/h) taking five minutes to travel a mile. ULTra is nearly twice as fast as a car and about three times as quick as a bus.  

ULTra will probably not replace most cars and buses but it might help in places where passengers need to move quickly between two points. Airports are a good example and ATS is currently building its first system at Heatrow between the passenger car parks and the central terminal area. The Heatrow ULTra project should be ready within a year and will include 78 vehicles moving between 27 stations and transporting approximately 10,000 passengers daily. 

ULTra isn’t cheap, estimations show that it will cost between 6 and 10 million dollars per kilometer to build. However since it does not require a driver and has relatively low overall maintenance costs, it can be a useful solution for future projects requiring short range quick transport system.  

Several videos and more information can be found on ATS ULTra website.
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About the author

Iddo Genuth

Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.

View all articles by Iddo Genuth