- The future of transportation

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CGI by O'Shea Design

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This is a list of the top ten advantages of a PRT system...

1) Computers drive better than you do

When driving a car and you see a red light ahead, you allow the vehicle to decelerate in anticipation of the stop.  This is smart driving at a modest scale.  But in a fully automated system like the PRT, the entire route is precalculated from beginning to end, not just to the next intersection.  As a result, stopping at intersections becomes an antiquated concept as computer control would time vehicles so as to weave the traffic together seamlessly.

   Proof that future transportation must be fully automated

When a child runs onto the tracks, a human attempts to break or swerve to avoid the obstacle.  This can lead to loss of control of the vehicle.  Or if the driver doesn't see the child, there is no attempt to stop is even made.  But with computer controlled vehicles utilizing image recognition and motion detection technologies, the reaction time is reduced to milliseconds and braking is applied at precisely the optimum rate.  Computers are not distracted by noisy children or cell phones.  Nighttime vision is achieved through infrared cameras.  Finally, there would be no chain reaction collisions as every vehicle in the system is aware of every other, reacting appropriately.

Every ten minutes someone is killed in an automobile accident in the US.  That's over 40,000 fatalities a year.  That's also the number of lives that could be saved if we weren't reliant on human driving skills.

2) Convenience

Commuters would no longer have the stress of driving in traffic, allowing them to concentrate on leisure activities like reading a book or enjoying their coffee.  No more struggling with maps or wondering which route would best avoid traffic.  Luxury is an unintended benefit of the system.

3) Accessibility

To own a car, you need to know how to drive.  With PRT everyone has the freedom to travel.  Children can travel to and from school without the parents.  The elderly maintain their mobility long after eyesight or reaction times have diminished.  The handicapped are likewise empowered, summoning specially equipped vehicles as appropriate.

4) No more gasoline

PRT vehicles use electric motors, powered from a 3rd rail 48V (non-lethal) source.  Electric engines are less expensive, more reliable, and easier to maintain.  Electric vehicles are quieter and do not pollute the air.  Service stations are a relic of the past.  Electrical energy still requires a source - nuclear, solar, or burning of fossil fuels, but generating energy in a central location is considerably more efficient than burning gasoline in millions of individual combustion engines.  PRT is energy source agnostic.

5) Economical

The challenge of introducing any new transportation system is competing with the enormous investment we already have with the existing system, namely the automobile.  The PRT addresses this problem by taking over the existing roads, bridges, and underpasses instead of attempting to build a parallel infrastructure.  The vehicles themselves are much smaller than traditional light rail vehicles, which means the rails do not need to be of the same gauge.  This would also be a savings.  Finally, the existing automobiles would not simply be scrapped, but gradually resold into the outlying areas where the PRT has not reached.  So the new vehicle market will go away, but existing vehicles will complete their normal lifecycles.

6) No more parallel parking.  In fact, no more parking.

If you look outside you see parking lots and driveways.  Millions of acres are paved over with asphalt and concrete for storing idle cars.  More land is dedicated to parking lots than parks.  With the PRT just the opposite will be true.  Millions of acres will be reclaimed for better uses.  Some land will be required for overflow and maintenance of PRT vehicles, but since the vehicles are in continuous service, only a tenth the number of PRT vehicles will be needed compared to automobiles. 

7) Terrorism-resistant

We live in a world where terrorism must be factored into the design of any transportation system.  If you design a bullet train to travel at 300 mph with 2000 passengers, the potential for catastrophy from terrorism (or an accident) is great.  On the other hand if each vehicle is independent and travels at modest speeds (45 mph), the potential for death from terrorism greatly diminished.  One requirement of the design is that control is shared between a central routing system and the individual vehicles, with each system able to independently halt the vehicle.  This failsafe design would prevent someone from overriding the central routing system and intentionally causing collisions.

8) Proven technologies

The advantage of the PRT system is that the design is based well established technologies....electric motors, routing software, rail switching, and so forth.  It does not depend on the development of alternative fuel technologies or fanciful schemes for breaking the sound barrier.  PRT can be implemented today.

9) Willing developers

The public expenditure to manage development of the PRT would not be insignificant, however the scale of the potential contracts to be awarded is such that many major corporations would be very motivated to develop competing designs...General Electric, Ford, GM. Toyota, Lockheed, and so on.

10) Good riddance

Many aspects of our lives will simply go away.  Stop lights.  Speed bumps.  Traffic tickets.  Traffic.  Service stations.  Auto insurance (or lack thereof).  Streetlights.  Car dealerships.  Flat tires.  Oil changes.  High speed car chases.  Parking meters.  Drunk driving.  Running lights.  Rubber-necking.  Horns.  Car pool lanes.  Smog tests.  The DMV.  The list is endless...







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