Ultra Global and Taiwanese partners to carry out landmark study into Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

Ultra Global is delighted to announce that it has signed a contract with its partners China Engineering Consultants Inc (CECI) to carry out a feasibility study into the deployment of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) within Taiwan. The agreement, the first to explore Ultra’s transport technology in Taiwan highlights the continued interest being shown in PRT across the South East Asian region. Ultra’s Head of Operations Mark Griffiths is today attending a workshop in New Taipei City to officially launch the project.

The study is a high level planning and design project which aims to increase awareness and understanding of PRT with a range of decision makers, stakeholders and members of the public and make them aware of the social and economic opportunities associated with it. Also included within the scope of the study is a specific exploration into the implementation of PRT in New Taipei City, an area which has been identified by Ultra and CECI as a location where PRT can be a lever in unlocking latent economic potential. The project which is expected to last until August 2014 will also draw on the expertise of consultants Sinclair Knight-Merz (SKM) whose own input and expertise will add considerable value to the project.

The contract is another positive step for the Bristol based developers of the technology Ultra Global who have gone from strength to strength since opening their first system in May 2011. The Heathrow pod, the world’s first commercially operational PRT system has now carried close to a million passengers and has amassed over 1,000,000 safe driverless passenger miles. The efficient operational performance at Heathrow along with the popularity of the system has resulted in tremendous interest across the world and the Taiwanese study is one of a number of studies Ultra is currently involved in.

Ultra’s Managing Director Fraser Brown was delighted to have signed the contract, saying “Our work over the past few years has identified the huge potential in PRT to provide high value, low cost, integrated transport solutions, and we look forward to working with CECI to identify how Ultra PRT can deliver a unique and bespoke response to transport requirements across Taiwan. This development is the result of a number of discussions and visits by both Ultra and CECI to Taiwan and the UK respectively and was initiated some 18 months ago.”

Contact: Richard Isles
T: +44 (0) 208 757 2054
E: richard.isles@ultraprt.com

About Ultra Global:

Ultra Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a new and innovative on-demand system for developed or urban environments. It is designed to meet the need for congestion free, multi-origin, multi-destination public transport. Using small driverless electric vehicles that run on guideways, the lightweight and flexible nature of the system enables it to be retrofitted into a broad range of environments and provide transportation that is environmentally friendly and operationally efficient. Ultra PRT has been designed with reliability and safety built-in as standard to ensure the comfort and security of passengers.

Founded by Bristol University (UK) Professor Martin Lowson in 1995, the company’s first system opened in May 2011 at London Heathrow Airports Terminal 5 and currently transports passengers to and from the Terminal’s designated Business Car Park. In addition to removing 70,000 bus journeys on Heathrow’s congested roads each year, the system has also saved 200 tonnes of Co2 per annum and has previously been voted by customers as the single highest scoring passenger service on the entire airport campus.

About CECI

CECI was established in 1969 primarily for the purpose of uplifting Taiwan’s technology and assisting in the economic development of Taiwan and other developing countries. Over the years CECI has undertaken some of the region’s biggest civil, architectural, structural and electrical/mechanical engineering projects, and with the emergence of the electronic information age, has actively expanded its scope of services into new areas of work, including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), e-commerce and biotechnology.

Engineering & Technology Magazine video report on Heathrow pod and PRT

Representatives from Ultra, Heathrow Airport and Arup took part in a short film chronicling the benefits of the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system deployed at Heathrow and the potential for the deployment of the technology in alternative applications such as urban environments.

Taking part in the film were Ultra’s Head of Engineering David Marron, Heathrow Airport’s Retail Services Director Max Vialou-Clark and Arup’s Associate Director Austin Smith.

The film can be seen here.

Heathrow pod receives Green Apple award

Ultra Global and Heathrow Airport were delighted that the Heathrow pod was awarded a coveted International Green Apple Award in front of an international audience at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament last week. The International Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice and Sustainable Development are run by the ‘The Green Organisation’ and are recognized internationally for identifying and promoting best practice in the field of sustainability.

Since commencing full passenger service in May 2011, the Heathrow pod has demonstrated its environmental prowess with the zero emission electric vehicles having saved over 200 tonnes of CO2 per annum and having removed 70,000 bus journeys from Heathrow’s road each year. With global environmental concerns growing, Ultra Global hope authorities and transport committees will turn to more sustainable solutions such as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) to meet growing transport demand in the UK and internationally. On winning the award, Ultra MD Fraser Brown commented, ‘We are thrilled to be recognized with a gold award, sustainable performance is a key benefit of the Ultra system and is one of a number of reasons why there continues to be firm interest in the deployment of PRT globally.’

The gold award for the Heathrow pod was one of four awards won by Heathrow Airport on the night, a tally that ensured the airport were crowned ‘Champion of Champions’ at the event.

UK Minister Lord Green Visits the Heathrow pod

Ultra Global were recently delighted to host Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment as he visited the company’s Heathrow pod personal rapid transit (PRT) system. In addition to a visit to the control room the Minister was able to take a return trip on the pods which have provided close to a million passengers with a link between Terminal 5 and the terminals designated Business Car Park. The pioneering technology which uses small driverless electric vehicles that run on dedicated guideways has successfully been in operation at the airport since May 2011.

In addition to the tour, Ultra’s Managing Director Fraser Brown welcomed the opportunity to share news of Ultra’s work with the minister including updates on projects in Brazil, India, Malaysia and Taiwan. The visit was also an appropriate occasion for Mr Brown to thank the minister for the tremendous support provided by Lord Green’s team at UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) who have helped promote Ultra’s technology so successfully in a number of international markets.

Lord Green becomes the latest in a succession of UK Government representatives to have travelled on the system in the past 12 months including Vince Cable, Patrick McLoughlin, Alan Duncan and Norman Baker. MD Fraser Brown hopes that visits such as this will continue to help improve the profile of personal rapid transit ensuring it is on the agenda at the very highest level. Mr Brown commented ‘Ultra’s future success depends on highlighting the ability and potential of our technology to provide effective connectivity solutions within the UK and worldwide. Lord Green and his team at UKTI are fundamental to this process and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to showcase our work personally to the Minister.’

Heathrow Pod part of UKTI GREAT Campaign

Images from Ultra Global’s Heathrow pod personal rapid transit have been included within UK Trade and Investments (UKTI) ‘Britain is GREAT’ campaign. The promotion which is designed to showcase the very best of what Britain can offer was originally launched in September 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron. Since then Ultra Global have been able to take part in a number of events organized through the campaign however this is the first time images from Ultra’s system have been included within the artwork used to promote the initiative. Alongside images of the pods, the campaign also features the likes of McClaren Formula One Cars, Robotic Hands from Touch Bionics and the Bloodhound supersonic car.

The images will form part of a portfolio of pictures available to British diplomatic teams across the world to highlight the best of British skills and expertise and to encourage people to visit, study and do business with the UK. Ultra were delighted that the The RT Hon Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise and Minister for Energy used the images featuring Ultra’s pod during the launch of his Construction 2025 agreement earlier this year. Ultra plan to use the artwork at a number of events they are attending this year.

Business Secretary Vince Cable rides Heathrow pod on route to Brazil (April 2013)

Ultra Global Limited (UG) were delighted to welcome Business Secretary Vince Cable to our Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) transport system at Heathrow Terminal 5 on Monday 22 April.

The Business Secretary was shown the control room and took the 5 minute journey on one of Ultra’s 21 ‘Pods’ on the 2km journey between the car park and the main terminal building.

Vince Cable said; “I am impressed by Ultra Global’s innovative, world leading technology and was glad to be given the opportunity to see and experience it for myself. The fact that it originated as an idea at Bristol University is proof of what UK research can lead to.”

Briefed by Managing Director Fraser Brown and Head of Engineering David Marron, the Business Secretary  heard about the idea behind PRT as an additional transport mode to complement existing technologies and provide new, zero emissions, urban transport for cities and campuses. The Business Secretary was told how these small driverless Pods, powered by an electric motor and 4 batteries, were an ideal solution for the perennial ‘last mile’ transport problem in many cities which often discourages people from using conventional public transport. Fraser and David highlighted that adding PRT into a city or campus to complement existing public transport could help improve connectivity, increase public transport use, and reduce congestion from the private car.

Fraser explained that Ultra Global were working with Arup, Bristol City Council (BCC) and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to investigate PRT’s implementation in Bristol to complement the planned upgrades by Network Rail to Bristol Temple Meads station, Bristol City Council’s planned Metro and Bus Rapid Transit schemes, and to support the LEP’s objective of creating 17,000 jobs in its Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone (TQEZ) through improved connectivity.

Fraser and David also shared the news that Ultra was working with The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and Transport for London (TfL) on PRT’s suitability to support the economic and social development plans of LLDC to complement the existing transport infrastructure including the tube, DLR, bus routes and cycle lane and hire schemes.

Fraser informed Vince Cable that UG were engaged with the Automotive Council as part of the Council’s work on developing the UK’s autonomous vehicle capability. He explained that UG’s Pods carried many of the key technologies major car manufacturers were working on as part of their driverless car programs and that through the council UG’s technology was being considered as part of an industry wide demonstration progamme.

Cable learned of UG’s plans to export this UK technology. Fraser explained the work being done with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) support in India where the city of Amritsar is considering the use of PRT to take pilgrims from the rail and bus stations in the city to the Golden Temple.

The Business Secretary was flying to Brazil on a 4 day visit leading a UK Business Delegation. UG were amongst a number of UK infrastructure companies accompanying the minister as he lent his support to their work promoting UK business exports to this large and rapidly growing economy. Specifically Cable met Brasell, UG’s business partner in Brazil, and one of the first potential customers for PRT in the country’s southern state of Santa Caterina. Speaking to the state officials at a dinner at the UK Consulate General’s Residence in Sao Paolo Mr Cable said; “Ultra Global are already a great British exporting success story, having sold their unique personal rapid transport systems into high growth markets around the world. I was very pleased that they could join me on the UK trade mission to Brazil and I wish them every success for bringing PRT to the Brazilian market, and to other global markets in the future”.

Heathrow Pods Go Funny For Money

Heathrow’s unique passenger pod travel system has given one of its fleet a Comic Relief makeover to support the charity ahead of Red Nose Day, and from today, gives passengers a chance to win three days’ free parking at the T5 Business Parking Car Park.

The Comic Relief passenger pod, which takes you door-to-door without dropping off other passengers or waiting in traffic, is festooned in Comic Relief 2013’s Di-nose-saurs and is already a run-away passenger favorite.

From Red Nose Day on 15 March and throughout March, the passenger who tweets the best “Funny For Money” message from the pod after donating to Comic Relief on their mobile phone will win three days’ free parking at the T5 Business Car Park.

Almost two years old, the pods are a UK first, and Heathrow is the first airport in the world to use them. Passengers say they’re “incredible”, “pretty brilliant” and “futuristic”.

Fraser Brown, Ultra’s managing director, said: “We are very proud to support Comic Relief and promote their work towards a world free from poverty.

“Communities flourish when people can travel quickly, with less pollution and congestion. We’re working with partners across the world, in India, Malaysia and Brazil, to help them bring this innovative technology and its social benefits to communities.”


Notes to editors

  1. More information on the pods and the UK company behind them can be found at Ultra’s website: http://www.ultraglobalprt.com
  2. To enter, pod travellers should text “FIVE” or “TEN” to 70510 to donate £5 or £10 to Comic Relief from their UK mobile phone between 15-31 March and complete this tweet in the funniest way they can: “I gave £5/10 to @comicrelief on #heathrowpod…”. The competition closes at 5pm, 31 March
  3. Ultra has signed Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) with business partners in Malaysia, Taiwan and Brazil where they will work on feasibility studies to introduce a pod system in key cities
  4. The driverless, laser-guided pods seat up to 4 people, going between Heathrow’s business car park and Terminal 5. The journey, past roads and runways, is just 5-6 minutes
  5. traveling at 25 miles per hour, the vehicles run on four standard car batteries
  6. In December 2012, the pods carried their 500,000th passenger
  7. Photos of the Comic Relief pod are attached
  8. For more info, please contact Gill Kirk at gill_kirk@lyric-communications.com / 07721 036191

Heathrow announces plans for an additional Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system

Ultra Global are delighted to see that plans for an additional Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system at Heathrow have been included in Heathrow Airport Limited’s business plan for the next five years  (April 2014-2019, also known as Q6) which was announced this week. The proposed system which will run from Terminals 2 & 3 out to the terminal’s own particular business car parks will aid Heathrow Airport Limited in its vision to create a far simpler Central Terminal Area for passengers.

The new Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, which will be the second installed at Heathrow, follows in the path of the hugely successful Heathrow POD system that currently connects the Terminal 5 Business Car Park with Terminal 5 itself. The system at Terminal 5 which has been operational since May 2011 has carried over 600,000 passengers to date, has removed the need for 70,000 bus journeys on Heathrow’s roads each year and has maintained impressive availability figures of around 99.7%.

In response to the news, Ultra Global Managing Director Fraser Brown commented, ‘We are thrilled to hear of Heathrow’s inclusion of a further PRT system in Q6, the success of Heathrow POD has demonstrated the huge potential in PRT to deliver an effective sustainable first/last mile solution around campus locations such as airports as well as providing a distributor service from ‘heavier’ transport interchanges such as rail stations. It is an endorsement of the Ultra system that less than two years after opening the world’s first airport PRT system, Heathrow wants to build more.’

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will now publish a consultation on their initial proposals for aeronautical charges at Heathrow before making a final decision in January 2014. The Q6 Period will begin in April 2014 and run through to 2019.

The full Heathrow Airport Limited Q6 Business Plan can be found here.



Notes to Editors:

Ultra Global Limited

Ultra Global Limited designed and operate the Heathrow POD system at London’s Heathrow Airport. Ultra Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a new and innovative on-demand system for developed or urban environments. It is designed to meet the need for congestion free, multi origin, multi-destination public transport. Using small driverless electric vehicles that run on guideways, the lightweight and flexible nature of the system enables it to be retrofitted into a broad range of environments and provide transportation that is environmentally friendly and operationally efficient. For more information please visit www.ultraglobalprt.com

Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited

Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited (formerly BAA) owns and runs London Heathrow Airport, Britain’s aviation hub, as well as a number of other UK airports – Aberdeen ,Glasgow and Southampton. For more information please visit www.heathrowairport.com.



Heathrow pod’s latest Rt Hon fan

Heathrow pod’s latest fan, the Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP, Minister of State for International Development hopped on board a pod at Terminal 5, at the beginning of his UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) ministerial mission to Singapore, and Malaysia on Monday 3rd December.  The Minister was leading a trade mission of 27 companies to promote the UK’s expertise in Smart Cities technology, which uses ICT solve problems relating to urban living.

The pods are an unmanned system of rechargeable automatic mini-taxis.  The Minister said of his first ever ride on a pod, “This is British engineering, design and execution at its best. This is a revolutionary, environmentally friendly transport system that’s easy and cost effective to install, pollution free and extremely fun to use.  It highlights the UK’s and Ultra Global’s ability in designing a world first and world beating new form of transport, moving large numbers of travellers, to exactly where and when they want to go.  This is exactly the sort of innovative system that I’ll be promoting on my forthcoming Far East Trade Mission.”

The Minister was accompanied on his ride by Fraser Brown, MD of Ultra Global PRT, the Bristol company that designed, engineered and runs the Heathrow pod at Heathrow’s T5.  The system, originating from Bristol University, has been in operation at the Airport for 18 months, carrying nearly 500,000 passengers and winning passenger plaudits and industry awards along the way.

Ultra Global is working with its Far East partner Fairwood  on an engineering feasibility study at Changi Airport, looking at connecting existing terminals and the new Terminal 4 building. In addition, Ultra has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with YTL of Malaysia and Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) and are working on opportunities in Kuala Lumpur, particularly in the town of Putrajaya.

The Ultra Global pod is world beating transport technology which can be easily installed, with minimal disruption or environmental impact, give existing cities with already established infrastructure/buildings real economic and social benefits in a sustainable way by solving ‘last mile’ solutions, which is what passengers want.