Is automated personal transport the future?

No, it’s not a gigantic toaster on wheels nor an alien’s toy car, it’s Britain’s answer to rail-free, time-table free, emission-free personal transport.

Planned for launch sometime after the opening of Heathrow’s terminal 5, these pod-shaped capsules will transport people from the car park to the new terminal, and on demand, will be available within 12 seconds!

The battery run capsules take four people at a time and are pre-programmed. You will be able to pick them up at designated spots where they will be waiting, or you can call for one. You then select your destination on the touch screen and the capsule will mark out the best possible route to take you there. (GPS taken to a new dimension?) They will have their own paths, so congestion and traffic lights will not be an issue.

The main selling point of these Personal Transport Systems (PRT) as they are called, will be their convenience: you will no longer have to wait in queues, nor share transport with strangers, and your transit time from car to airport will be reduced to 4 minutes. The capsules are as green as they can get: they use less than half the amount of fuel used by public or private transport making them at least 50% more energy efficient, and have zero local emissions.

Once tried and tested, the plan is to expand their use as valuable complements to mass transit systems in big cities. I wonder how much a trip in these would cost?

Automated parking systems, and now this, Heathrow seems to be on a roll for setting new standards.