ULTra - driverless automatic taxi

The ULTra, a mass-transit system with automated, driverless taxis, is scheduled to go into operation within a year in the city of Cardiff in the U.K. Unlike most mass transit systems, the ULTra offers a small private car running on tracks(up to four passengers), accessible through a series of stations that are "offline" (do not impede the flow of ULTras in use) and goes straight to the destination set by the user. The acronym stands for Urban Light Transport.


(From ULTra Advanced Transport Systems)

Here are the advantages of the system, as stated on the ULTra Advanced Transport Systems website:

  • gives immediate personal travel service for you, your family, friends or colleagues, taking you non-stop anywhere on the network whenever you decide to travel
  • provides journeys that are three times quicker than by bus, car or light rail
  • costs less to operate than buses, cars, trains or light rail - typically one third the cost of equivalent light rail to install
  • uses much less energy per passenger km than buses, cars, trains or light rail
  • is environmentally friendly – zero city pollution, quiet and efficient
Science fiction fans may recall the bubble car from Larry Niven's 1976 novel A World Out of Time. The novel describes the use of shared cars that were self-steering and used a numerical designator for the address. Once given a destination, the bubble car did the rest.

For more information on the ULTra, see an extended article - Personal Rapid Transit: A Potential New Urban Transport Solution; thanks to Gadget Madness for this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/14/2004)

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