Future cities will eliminate gridlocked roads by offering personalized tram cars that can whisk us to any destination in the city, on-demand, and with little to no delay. You'll be able to experience this cutting-edge form of urban transport when the ULTra system debuts at Heathrow Airport later this year. Each electric car rides around on a concrete guideway, its movements controlled by a central computer. It could be safer, cleaner and more efficient than any current method of moving people around cities.
In an urban setting, users would visit a terminal (sort of like a bus stop, pictured in a CGI rendering below) and swipe a smart card. Then they'd enter their destination information. The smart card would already have alerted the system to any of the user's special needs. Usually, an empty car would be waiting because the central computer constantly checks where unused cars can be sent to satisfy demand.
The car then travels automatically along a concrete path, which can be seen clearly in the next photo, taking the most direct route to the destination. Other cars are avoided by the computer control system.
ULTra is being produced by Advanced Transport Systems Ltd. Heathrow Airport will use a scaled-down version of the system to carry people from distant parking lots to the main terminal buildings, eliminating shuttle buses. You can also watch a CGI video demo of the system. Photos by: ATS.