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Monday, September 17, 2007

Technology 3 - Personal Rapid Transit

During the hippie years in Oxford, England, there was the white bicycle system. These whitebicycles (literally painted white) are for everyone's use. When you see one you pick them up, ride them and leave them where you stopped. This bike will then be picked up by someone else to be used and left somewhere else. Then someone else who needs a bike will in turn pick up the bike to go somewhere... and the story goes on.
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What if we apply a closely similar system to cars? That means, for a very small fare, you pick up the car, drive to where you want to go and leave the car to be used by someone else. This way, you can enjoy the comforts and convenience of a private car, without owning one or even renting one. In short, it is a public transport of cars.
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Some of you may think that this is but a pipe dream. It won't be possible, as who will take care of the cars, or that it won't be a feasible system for mass transportation.
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Now enter, electric cars, computers, simple guide ways and an automated fare system and you get a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). The technology is already here and now. And I met up with the inventor recently and he showed me this video...

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These cars run on electricity and are piloted by a central computer system. Unlike mass rapid transits and light rail transits, these cars are independent of their tracks. Hypothetically, they can operate as electric cars on conventional roads. However, when operated within the PRT the car movements are monitored by the central computer, their speed calculated and interactivity synchronised across junctions to regulate smooth traffic flow. That means, no more traffic lights!!! The guide ways, which are just normal roads with embedded transponders will be able to take more cars at close proximities to each other, than in conventional roads.
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The advantages of the PRT system are that it is a cheaper, nimbler, quicker and more convenient mode of transport. It negates the need to own private transport and if it succeeds in doing so, will save the world a lot of carbon-dioxide emissions; at the same time improve the quality of life for the masses.
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Does it all add up?
Yes! PRT can transport the masses faster and cheaper than mass rapid transit (MRT) and buses. It doesn't need a regular schedule as in buses. When not in use, it stays stationary, unlike MRTs and buses that must make their loss-making rounds during the off-peak hours. When in use, it only move the number of cars needed, unlike MRTs and buses which have to move their mon0lithic whole consuming more fuel. So PRTs make economic sense. It is counter-intuitive to mass transportation, but it serves the masses well.
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Post scriptum:

I got a reader comment/contribution on some relevant links on YouTube:

Ultra PRT

A PRT Project Presentation


PRT in Korea?

PRT in West Virginia

PRT in Brisbane, Australia?

Nissan electric car demo

Who killed the electric car?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7hgipbHBK8

jupilier said...

Thanks for the link. Actually, I found some other links from there...

1. Presentation in the US
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15XbXi_9Xzk&mode=related&search=

2. PRT in Korea?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36SdgB_8jjk&mode=related&search=

3. PRT in West Virginia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPOXfMKE50M&mode=related&search=

4.PRT in Brisbane?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN8o03Hh74A&mode=related&search=

jupilier said...

Nissan electric car demo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ChHlWSKTkM&mode=related&search=

Who killed the electric car?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSBykAngDpY&mode=related&search=