Heathrow’s private, driverless pods offer a futuristic way to get to the airport terminal

Transfers into London Heathrow's Terminal 5 just got a whole lot more fun.

Heathrow's private, driverless pods offer a futuristic way to get to the airport terminal

Photos courtesy of BAA/ULTra

Transfers into London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 just got a whole lot more fun.

BAA has officially unveiled private, driverless pods that shuttle travellers on-demand between the Business Car Park and main terminal, giving a glimpse into the future of air travel.

The launch of the personal rapid transit (PRT) system – believed to be the first of its kind in the world – follows successful passenger trials.

The private pods – which are fully automated and can be summoned at the touch of a button from a dedicated ‘station’ – are designed to whizz up to four passengers at a time and their luggage across a 4km circuit to and from Terminal 5.

Heathrow's private, driverless pods offer a futuristic way to get to the airport terminal

The state-of-the-art pods are expected to zip around 500,000 passengers a year between Terminal 5 and the Business Car Park.

Travelling at speeds of up to 25mph, passengers can make the journey to the terminal in five minutes.

According to Heathrow, the zero-emissions pods aim to cut 50,000 bus journeys on the roads around the airport each year, as well as passengers’ journeys by an average of ten minutes compared to catching a bus.

The pods recharge themselves at battery points while waiting for passengers.

The congestion-free crossing from the car park to Terminal 5.

Travelling at speeds of up to 25mph, passengers can make the journey to the terminal in five minutes.

BAA and the pod’s developer, UK firm ULTra have been working on the £30 million project for six years.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s commercial director, said: “The Heathrow pods offer a personal, comfortable and reliable ride that is free of emissions. That’s why 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.”

On-demand: Passengers can hire a personal 'cab' at the touch of a button, after selecting their destination (the Business Car Park or Terminal 5).

Heathow said it will be monitoring the performance of the pods as well as feedback from passengers, with a view to possibly expanding them across Heathrow and on the airport campus.

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