Heathrow to trial driverless transport
Press release issued: 3 November 2005
A revolutionary form of driverless travel - the ULTra (Urban Light Transport) - is to be tested at Heathrow Airport by BAA, the world's leading airport company. Advanced Transport Systems Ltd (ATS), a University of Bristol spinout company, has secured £7.5 million in investment from BAA to fund the pilot study.
Advanced Transport Systems Ltd (ATS), a University of Bristol spinout company, has secured £7.5 million in investment from BAA to fund the pilot study.
ULTra is an innovative form of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). Conventional forms of public transit require passengers to collect in groups until a large vehicle, scheduled to travel on predetermined routes, arrives. In contrast, ULTra offers personal transport with no waiting, and takes passengers non-stop to their chosen destination. This is a transport system which is as convenient as the car, but with minimal environmental impact.
The award-winning ULTra is electrically powered and will provide low cost and sustainable transport, using 70% less energy per passenger-kilometre than a car and with zero emissions in town. In addition, 95% of ULTra passengers will have a waiting time of less than 1 minute, even at peak times.
Professor Martin Lowson, Chief Executive of ATS, said: "ATS have a world lead in this new industry. This investment will allow us to complete the final production and commercialisation phases of the project. We are delighted to be able to demonstrate the practical value of spinout opportunities from the University."
ULTra emerged from a fundamental reappraisal of the transport needs of a city. It is designed to meet the expectations of passengers - convenient, inexpensive, reliable, safe and easy to use - while also satisfying public demands for value for money, ease of construction, and environmental benefit.
ATS Chairman, Trevor Smallwood added: "We are delighted that BAA are going to be long term partners in this exciting new transport technology".
ATS developed the new solution for transport in cities and other locations worldwide. Known as ULTra this development is a 'revolution in public transport' that provides on-demand, driverless travel. An ULTra network has the same capacity as a motorway lane (1800 vehicles/hour), yet uses a quarter of the land and costs a tenth to produce.
The concept was initially developed by the Advanced Transport Group at the University of Bristol. With the company valued at around £30 million it is one of the highest value stakes that the University has in any of its spinouts.