Our tour of what will become Masdar City began today with a ride on the world’s first fully operational trackless “Personal Rapid Transit” system. Picture a driverless car that you summon with a button which then takes you to any destination you like within a city. That’s the idea behind this system of 4 passenger electric vehicles which glide around on magnetically guided routes beneath the fossil-fuel-free city in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Granted the system is a mere 800m long, and hilariously only connects two stations which are barely a 5 minute walk apart. But it’s the very start of phase one. Assuming the testing phase goes without kinks, the plans call for the PRT system to run beneath most of Masdar City, future population 50,000, plus commuters. However, current deliberation may scale it back. Either way, the system will be augmented by a handful of stops on the future Abu Dhabi metro with the combined convenience making the city almost totally car free.
Manufactured by the Dutch firm 2GetThere, each vehicle is independently powered by Lithium-Phosphate batteries and recharges each time it sits at a station. Whether or not this type of system becomes commonplace in 21st century development remains to be seen, but it was fun to ride.