The Podcars Are Coming


Photo simulation of pod car track in Stockholm by Vectus

The quaint college town of Uppsala, Sweden seems like the last type of place to test these funny-looking personal rapid transit (PRT) electric pod cars from Korea-based Vectus.

But the Swedish Rail Administration (SJ), which gave Vectus permission to both build a test track and let engineers drive the pods around, is not as staid as its name implies - SJ was the first in Europe to put in service a biogas train last year on the route between the towns of Västervik and Linköping (try to say that name three times fast).

Though we haven't had much faith in PRT as a good people-moving car replacement, Sweden's Institute for Sustainable Transport thinks the concept has merit, and there are also PRT-like projects in different stages of planning all over Europe.Vectus is one of the furthest along; it finished the Uppsala test track this spring on an unused football field and started testing one pod on it; now the second car has arrived. Vectus envisions PRTs in Swedish cities would supplement rather than replace other urban transit; riders would pay with a debit card or token, beckon the driver-less cars to a station via a call button, and then press another series of buttons to program in a destination.

Vectus imagines about a three-second 'headway' between pods which would run at around 45 kilometers per hour in the inner city, making it possible to move large numbers of people during rush hour, the company said.

Pod car proponents had their first international conference at the Uppsala test track earlier this month; read more about the different Euro-projects at ::podcar.org

Tags: Sweden

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