The Masdar City Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system celebrated its 6th anniversary on 28th November, just a week after carrying its 2 millionth passenger.
The PRT’s driverless pods have covered a distance of more than 891,879 km on their transit route over the past six years, and have displaced CO2 emissions equivalent to running 53 cars for a whole year.
Masdar’s Executive Director of Sustainable Real Estate Yousef Baselaib greeted Miss Geethma Devangee, the lucky two million milestone passenger, as the pod completed its journey from the North Car Park station to dock at Masdar Institute. Geethma, a student from Merryland School Abu Dhabi, was visiting Masdar City as part of an educational tour with her school.
"This achievement stands as a true testament to our culture of innovation. The popularity of the PRT demonstrates how functional sustainable urban transport development is paving the way for cities of the future," said Baselaib.
Over the years a wealth of data has been collected from the PRT system which has been used to further the development of autonomous vehicles, both in relation to the technology, as well as user interaction.
The CEO of PRT manufacturer 2getthere, Carel van Helsdingen, added: "Real-life applications are invaluable for the reliability of the resulting information. Where a demonstration only provides an indication of the way passengers interface with a system, a real-life application shows real-world behaviour.
"At Masdar City we have both daily passengers and first-time users, from 6am until midnight, with the requirement to constantly provide a reliable and high service level under difficult environmental conditions. As a result we have gained significant knowledge to support autonomous vehicle development."
The PRT system in Masdar City welcomed its 1 millionth passenger in May 2014, and has now carried a second million in the short time since, accounting for a 75 per cent increase in passenger numbers. The system is currently carrying five times the originally anticipated number of passengers, averaging close to 90 per cent occupancy rates during morning and afternoon peak hours.
The driverless vehicles are controlled by an advanced navigation system that uses magnets embedded in the corridor to know their position while onboard sensors detect any obstacles in their path. They are powered by a battery that recharges while the pods are standing in the stations between trips.
The Masdar City PRT system benefits from dynamic safety features, resulting in zero accidents or collisions since launch. System availability and vehicle reliability have also consistently achieved success rates of 99.6 per cent and 99.9 per cent respectively.
Phase 1A of the Masdar City PRT pilot project is approximately 1.4 km long and features two stations: the North Car Park and the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology. 2getthere is set to expand this network across more sites across the City, as well as introducing a General Rapid Transit (GRT) system in the near future.
Since its launch, the PRT system in Masdar City has been attracting local and international visitors, as well as high profile dignitaries.