Heathrow Pods

Developing driverless personal transport for Heathrow Airport

Researchers from the Department of Aerospace Engineering have removed the queuing and inefficiencies associated with bus transfers to Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.

Now when passengers park their cars at Terminal 5, they do not have to wait for a bus transfer to the Terminal.

Instead, they get straight into a driverless pod. If there isn’t one already waiting, they can call for one. It arrives quickly and takes them to their destination without stopping during the journey.

This revolutionary transit system was designed by researchers at the University of Bristol and commercialised through a spin-off company, now called Ultra Global PRT.

“There’s an enormous sense of pride for all the staff who were involved in turning this science fiction dream into a reality at Heathrow and demonstrating the best of British innovation”

Fraser Brown, Managing Director of Ultra Global PRT.

The individual pods can take up to four people and their luggage and are designed to run on a separate guideway, enabling a fully automated system. The pods are lightweight and even the infrastructure is lighter and cheaper to build than an equivalent footbridge.

The system also scores high on sustainability as it uses stored energy and has eliminated 50,000 bus journeys a year at Heathrow.

 “….our excitement for this pioneering British technology is being shared by town planners, architects, other airports, business parks, campuses, retail and residential destinations from the US, Europe, India, Mexico and the UK, who believe that this system could revolutionise transport in urban environments.”

John Holland Kaye, then commercial director at BAA (now Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd), 2011

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