So far, the transport pods have received positive reviews from passengers who say the driverless coaches whisk along the dedicated pathways smoothly and without making a peep.
ULTra-PRT, the firm behind the podcars, says the system has 21 vehicles and makes the 1.2-mile journey in less than six minutes. In a capacity test, the podcars have made 164 trips in less than one hour. When pods arrive at a station, they stop off the track, meaning others can pass by. With traditional rail, trains typically get backed up at stopping points.
The electric-powered pods replace diesel-fueled buses that used to run the route between the terminal and the parking lots. A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport says the podcars' efficiency gains stem from the shift to electric and the on-demand nature of pod transport. The spokesperson says the pods use 50 percent less energy than diesel-burning buses.
For another look at driverless vehicles, check out the VIPA.