VIDEO TOUR: London Heathrow's amazing robotic peoplemover

VIDEO TOUR: London Heathrow's amazing robotic peoplemover "Pods"

The Heathrow Pod is one of the most revolutionary airport transit systems in the world. Just using this personal peoplemover to nip from the car park to Terminal 5 makes you feel like the future has arrived.

With individual transport pods for each passenger (or group of around four to six people), you select your destination from a touchscreen before boarding and are whisked automatically -- no drivers! -- to where you want to go.

At least one pod is always awaiting your selection, and it's rare for there to be fewer than two available.

The current network takes you from Terminal 5, home to most of British Airways' flights, to two business car parks. The system uses an elevated track, similar to Brisbane's busway system, but with more planes.

The pods roll over this elevated skyway, while planes land overhead.

Frequent travellers can only dream of picking up a pod from Terminal 3 -- where Australia flights on Qantas arrive -- and heading over to Terminal 5 for a connecting BA flight to Europe.

Your present option? A tired, smelly airport bus sputtering its way around the industrial landscape behind the terminals.

The future? Whizzing around above the airport while planes land over your head.

Each purple and white pod has two seats that would seat four reasonably comfortably and six in a pinch.

The pods are spacious for two: light, bright, airy and air-conditioned.

The stations at each terminal are modern and futuristic, with touchscreens to get you where you're going.

Want to see more? Check out our exclusive video -- with commentary -- below.

John Walton

John Walton (John Walton)

@thatjohn

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.
 

4 Comments

  • am

    am

    10 Sep, 2011 02:43 pm

    Is there any space for luggage storage in these things? Or do you just put it on the floor? Would love to see this idea expanded!

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  • John Walton

    John Walton

    11 Sep, 2011 01:03 am

    You just roll it in onto the floor. I suppose if there were more than two of you it might get a bit cramped -- but then you just get two pods.

    The good thing about the way it's been constructed is that it currently ends north of the airport between the perimeter fence and the Bath Road. [map] (That's the one with most of the car rentals, plus hotels like the Renaissance.)

    It would be pretty easy to extend it further alongside the inside of the perimeter fence to drop you into the car rental places, hotels and so on. Imagine the bliss of avoiding the Horrendous Hotel Hoppa or the rental car buses.

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  • gabuke

    gabuke

    10 Sep, 2011 07:25 pm

    Agree! But the concept looks fab!

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  • Frenchie12366

    Frenchie12366

    30 Mar, 2015 08:48 am

    Sorry mate, but the comment that this sytem is the first of it's kind is not true. Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (WVU PRT) has been in operation since 1975 and was developed by Boeing Vertol. It resides on the campus of  West Virginia University and the surrounding area.

    Wikipedia states that "except for a short closure for a major expansion, has operated continually with 98.5% reliability for over thirty years." 

    Many political reasons have kept more of these systems from being built here in the states despite the WVU PRT's impeccable safety and reliability record.

    I have first-hand knowledge of several PRT design programs currently being done in my area. Hopefully another community will see one of these soon.

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7 Dec, 2016 06:51 am

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