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.

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:
  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 / 07721 036191

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.












Ultra recognised at UK National Transport Awards

At the award ceremony which took place in London on the 11th October, Ultra Global’s Heathrow pod was Highly Commended in the ‘Most Innovative Transport Project’ category of the National Transport Awards 2012.

Launched at Terminal 5 in April 2011, Heathrow pod is a network of 21 low-energy, battery powered, driverless, zero emission, transport vehicles. They carry four passengers and their luggage along a dedicated 3.8km guide way between the main terminal and its business car parks. Each pod is controlled by an internal computer and onboard sensor systems.

This year, the Pods will carry their ½ millionth passenger and continues to grow in popularity with several countries lining up to use the advanced technology. Work has started on the project to deliver the world’s first urban PRT system in Amritsar, India.

The Heathrow pod was showcased at the Global Business Summit on Infrastructure this year as an example of the best of British business to the world to develop strong international partnerships for future growth. The event drew delegates from Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Russia and Ghana.

For Ultra it is an honor to be recognized at the National Transport Awards, which follows on from our success in winning in the ‘Most Innovative Transport Project’ category at the London Transport Awards earlier in the year.

For more information on the awards click here.

BBC Today – Pod travel plan for Bristol enterprise zone

Automated pods on a guided roadway may be used to transport workers around a multimillion-pound enterprise zone in Bristol.

The city council is considering the plan for the business park close to Bristol Temple Meads station.

Liberal Democrat transport councillor Tim Kent said the pods were one of many options under consideration.

“It’s a lot cheaper than a traditional tram and it’s good for an area as small as the enterprise zone,” he added.

To read the full article, please go to

Ultra shortlisted in National Transport Awards 2012

Ultra Global’s Heathrow pod has been shortlisted in the ‘Most Innovative Transport Project’ category of the National Transport Awards 2012.

Transport is critical to the nation’s quality of life and its economic success. The Transport Times Awards provide an important platform for organisations and individuals to showcase their work, to encourage best practice and to achieve the recognition they deserve for their dedication, hard work and innovation demonstrated in delivering transport initiatives.

The shortlist for the category ‘Most Innovative Transport Project’ is:

1. Cambridgeshire County Council, Guided Busway
2. TfL, Travel Demand Management
3. TfGM, Rochdale Interchange
4. Southern, CHURROS
5. Emirates Airline
6. Heathrow Pod
7. Nottingham Workplace Parking Levy
8. Cubic Blackfriars
9. ScotRail: Better prepared for winter

For Ultra it is an honor to be shortlisted, as we’ve already won the ‘Most Innovative Transport Project’ in the London Transport Awards earlier in the year.

For more information on the awards click here.

Ultra Global PRT’s Heathrow pod now starring at the Science Museum

The Heathrow pod, created by Bristol’s Ultra Global PRT, will take a prime starring role in the Make it in Great Britain exhibition at London’s Science Museum.

Ultra Global PRT beat off competition from hundreds of UK companies to a place at the exhibition, which aims to dispel the myth that Britain ‘doesn’t make anything anymore’ and educate visitors about the value of manufacturing to the UK economy.

The exhibition is the culmination of the Make it in Great Britain campaign; an initiative launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last year which aims to challenge outdated opinions of the UK manufacturing industry, worth approximately £137bn to the UK economy each year and employing 2.5 million people.

Ultra pod at the Make it in Great Britain exhibition.

Ultra Global began life in 1995 as a research project at Bristol University to find a mass transit system that actually gave passengers what they wanted – namely, no waiting and going exactly where they wanted to go.

Today, that research project is the highly successful Heathrow pod transportation system at  Heathrow Airport, carrying over 500,000 passengers per annum.

A new and revolutionary environmentally friendly mass transport system, it features 21 electric powered, driverless, emissions free, on-demand 4 person vehicles, programmable by you to go directly where/when you want, without waiting, on a specially designed, raised 3.8km guideway, serving three passenger stations.

An Ultra pod system 10x larger (240 vehicles, 8km guideway, seven stations) is currently
being installing at Amristar, India, which is due to go live in early 2015.

Ultra Global MD Fraser Brown commented:

“It’s fantastic to see our exhibit representing the British manufacturing industry in the Science Museum.  We’re a comparatively small company, although admittedly with big ideas, and here we are alongside iconic companies like McLaren, Airbus, The Royal Mint and Sunseeker, representing what’s so great about British manufacturing.

We’re passionate about UK research, creativity and manufacturing, and can’t wait to show people what a vibrant industry it really is and of course, our pods.

The exhibition is free and we’d really encourage people from the South West when visiting
London to come along and see us here at the Science Museum.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The future of manufacturing in the UK is bright.  The Make it in Great Britain exhibition showcases a mix of forward-thinking businesses from a range of sectors including aerospace, automotive and food and drink, which will give the public a real flavor of what modern manufacturing is all about, and demonstrate first-hand the exciting and rewarding career opportunities available today.”

The exhibition was opened this morning (24.07.2012) by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Business Minister Mark Prisk. The exhibition runs from 24 July until 9 September and will demonstrate the very best of British manufacturing.

For more information on the Make it in Great Britain exhibition click here.

A BBC Click video on the exhibition can be seen here.

Ultra Global PRT’s Innovation Skills Awarded Yet Again.

Ultra Global PRT, the creators and operators of the Heathrow pod, the unique driverless, electric powered new transport system has just received the “Innovation of the Year” award at the AirRail News 2012 Awards in Stockholm.

For the nine specialist international judges from air and rail industries, Ultra Global PRT was a stand-out Innovation winner with its Heathrow pod, the pioneering, on-demand transport service. Their view was that the award recognized,  “the Heathrow pod’s true innovation and design excellence, its economic, business, environmental and social benefits and unique customer experience”.

Bristol based Ultra faced stiff competition from companies around the world at the Global AirRail Awards, the first ever international awards ceremony dedicated to the air-rail market to recognize the best practice in world-wide intermodal travel.

For Ultra Global, this accolade comes hot on the heels of Innovation Award wins from the 2012 Business Parking Awards and London Transport 2012 Awards and being shortlisted in the Climate Week Awards and is further recognition of the system’s success and popularity with customers.

Boasting reliability figures of over 99%, a wait time of usually less than 30 seconds from programming and entering the pod to the journey start, on a direct 5 minute journey, with no-stopping for other passengers, traffic or traffic lights on each trip, it’s easy to see why enthusiastic customer and media reviews are being endorsed with numerous awards.

Accepting the award, Ultra Global PRT’s Bid Manager, Dr John Hammersley said, “This is recognition of the work of all of my colleagues in delivering an innovative
new way of moving passengers around quickly, directly and without creating any form of environment harming emissions.  The fun and funky pods have endeared
themselves to passengers, who respond in glowing terms.  At the moment, they’re only in operation in Heathrow, but where London leads, others are busy following and plans are afoot to install a system of 240 pods in Amritsar India by 2014. We’re also working with Government’s and private organisations and developers in many other parts of the world to look at installing PRT systems.”