LONDON Unmanned electric personal rapid transit (PRT) vehicles are to be introduced towards the end of this year at to Heathrow Airport to ease the transfer of passengers between two remote stations at the terminal 5 (T5) business car parking and the T5 building.
Running smoothly on rubber tyres over steel and concrete elevated guideways approx 2 metres wide, the 4-6 seater battery powered Urban Light Transport (ULTra) 'pods' are suitable for transporting families and other groups.
The ULTra PRT system has been developed by Advanced Transport Systems Limited (ATS) who began the project in 1995 in association with the University of Bristol.
The Heathrow pilot system is planned for introduction towards the end of 2009. Its minimal environmental impact is also way ahead of its time, providing the required Kyoto Agreement's 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions over conventional automotive engines decades ahead of the 2050 target date.
As a global company specialising in the design and manufacture of embedded single board computers, Eurotech (Cambridge, England) has been closely involved in this project with Arrowvale Electronics through the supply of the PROTEUS embedded computer for the communications system.
The system, designed by Arrowvale Electronics, one of the U.K.'s leading suppliers of rail safety equipment, provides:
- Wireless communication for 2-way data and exchange of instructions from vehicle to control centre;
- Microphone for passenger communication;
- CCTV and video screen data passed to Communications Controller.
The communications system is a vital part of the PRT operation, delivering routing and scheduling instructions to the vehicles from a central control centre, and communicating their progress and status back to control.