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Travel Tamasha!

Get, set, go!

Metro is history. Monorail  is passé.  

Pod taxis are the latest public transport mode you ought to acquaint yourself with.

First the Haryana Government commissioned a feasibility study on developing a 105 km network for pod taxis in Gurgaon. And now, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Diskhit is considering this alternative transportation system for congested areas. According a press statement by Ms Dikshit, a pilot project can be launched in areas like Karol Bagh, North Campus, East Delhi and Dwarka city, where metro and monorail cannot be constructed.

So, what is a pod taxi?

A pod tax is an innovative form of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). It is a small, lightweight, computer-driven electric vehicle running on slender, special-purpose guide ways, arranged in a manner that all stations are located on sidings with frequent merging points. The taxi is designed for travel of individuals or small groups – typically not more than six passengers. The taxi has been developed by the Ultra PRT Limited Company.

The advantages

First and foremost, the taxi is pollution free. With a turning radius of 5m and an empty weight of 820kg – the taxi navigates complex routes with minimal supporting infrastructure. Yes, that makes it virtually silent.

Did you know: The Metro costs Rs 300 crore per kilometre and Monorail costs Rs 170 crore for a kilometre. If the manufacturers are to be believed, a pod taxi network can be built for just Rs 30 crore per kilometre.

From the Scratch: What goes into the making of a pod taxi?

  • Rubber pneumatic tyres
  • Front-wheel steering
  • Aluminium ladder frame chassis. Why? To support the vehicle's propulsion and guidance equipment.
  • Aluminium honeycomb floor. This is mounted on top of the chassis. What is honeycomb you ask? It's an alternative to wood that saves energy and reduces weight while ensuring higher strength and rigidity.
  • The above floor level is constructed with a steel frame and an ABS panel (primarily used to fill spaces and mount accessories; can be molded into shapes) body

Working

  • Single side or double side electric doors
  • A laser sensor system guides the vehicles
  • They have a very low energy usage of 0.15 kWh/vehicle-km at 40 kph (25 mph). Vehicles are charged via electrical contacts at station berths, or at offline waiting points. Power is currently stored in lead-acid batteries, which allow for rapid charging (up to 150amps) and are easily recyclable. The vehicles are designed to be upgradable to future energy-storage technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells.

Now that we have learnt all about this cool mode of transportation, let us just hope we see them on the roads sometime soon!

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