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5 Similarities Between PRT and Cars


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Both Can Be Pretty Stylish and Cool-looking

When you think public transit, you probably think clunky-looking vehicles like flex buses and old-fashioned trolleys. But Global's pod system at Heathrow, with its bullet-headed, gleaming metallic vehicles, affects a streamlined futuristic look that wouldn't be out of place in a cinematic sci-fi thriller [source: Good]. The Pinaforma-Vectus PRT concept is even more avant garde, with pods in a truncated wedge shape and floor-to-roof glass doors [source: Weiss].

Both existing and proposed designs for PRTs, in fact, look at least a little like bigger versions of the Mini Cooper and the Smart car -- or better yet, the "city" or "urban" concept cars developed by automakers, which have similarly blunted, streamlined shapes. One particularly PRT-like vehicle is GM's EN-V concept car, a podlike two-seater whose twin Segway-style wheels are powered by an electric motor running on lithium-phospate batteries. Unveiled at the Shaghai World Expo in May 2010, the EN-V has a lot in common with PRT systems technologically, as well. Like a PRT, an EN-V can drive in robot mode, with a central computer network controlling its movements. It also would be equipped with sensors to communicate with other vehicles and traffic signals, and a wireless Internet connection that would allow passengers to hold video conferences while on the move. The EN-V would be capable of much more complicated maneuvers than a PRT, since it wouldn't be on a rail system -- including the ability to make 360-degree turns on its twin wheels. However, like PRTs, the EN-V would require an elaborate infrastructure to operate [source: Scott].


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