THE TRANS­PORTA­TION SYS­TEM THAT WAS TO BE

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Mas­dar City's in­te­grated trans­porta­tion plan in­volves four ini­tia­tives, but it was the pod­car sys­tem, de­signed by the Ital­ian com­pany Za­gato and de­vel­oped by Dutch firm 2get­there, that held the most promise. The plan pro­posed a driver­less fleet of 3,000 free-mov­ing, elec­tric ve­hi­cles that could trans­port two to six pas­sen­gers be­tween 85 and 100 sta­tions, tal­ly­ing up to 135,000 trips a day along pre-pro­grammed routes. This sys­tem of pod­cars was ba­si­cally a re­place­ment for taxis, pro­vid­ing pri­vacy to pas­sen­gers with­out the con­ges­tion com­mon in other ur­ban cen­tres. A Wi-Fi net­work would ma­noeu­vre the pod­cars through ob­sta­cles in real time as mag­nets along the path con­tin­u­ously pull the ve­hi­cle into align­ment with lit­tle vari­ance: if one is missed, the pod­car con­tin­ues but if two are missed, it comes to a stop. Ul­ti­mately, the pod­cars were to be pow­ered by so­lar panel ar­rays on top of build­ings (which was also axed from the bud­get) and ther­mal en­ergy-stor­ing molten salt tech­nol­ogy al­low­ing the ve­hi­cles to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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