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”.

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