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.
Nick Aster is the founder of TriplePundit.
TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place. It was acquired in 2017 by 3BLMedia, the leading news distribution and content marketing company focused on niche topics including sustainability, health, energy, education, philanthropy, community and other social and environmental topics.
Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He also worked for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.
Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.