The Future Build

Catching a Ride in a Driverless Electric Vehicle

One of the more interesting technologies being put into action in Masdar is the PRT — or Rapid Transit System. The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) vehicles are air conditioned with wide comfortable cushioned seating that exceeds conventional public transport standards.

You sit down on leather seats and push another button to close the doors. With a warning beep, the car glides out of the glass box backwards and stops, then starts forward, gaining speed along with an increasing whine from the electric motor. It softly accelerates to its top speed of about 25kph along the smooth concrete pathway.

The vehicle’s user control panel consists of an information screen and interfaces for the vehicle activation, intercom, doors, medical assistance and emergency stop. Two benches each with two sunken-in seats face each other and are located over the wheels.

Wide sliding doors make it easy to enter the vehicle, while sensors ensure that nothing can get caught in the doors as they close. The vehicles are powered by a battery that recharges while vehicles are standing in the stations between trips.

The driverless vehicles are controlled by an advanced navigation system; they use magnets embedded in the corridor to know their position and onboard sensors to detect any obstacles in their path; a wireless connection keeps them linked to the central computer, which guides them on their journey and ensures smooth operation among all vehicles.

Three flatbed Freight Rapid Transit (FRT) vehicles will play the role of trucks and vans to transport deliveries to and from the Masdar Institute campus and its resident students and retailers, as well as the university itself. The FRTs also will transport waste from the campus for sorting and reuse or recycling.

Masdar PRT