Posted by: glennandert | 29-October-2009

A bit about the PRT pod

A pod is designed for it’s exact purpose. The pod that takes you to your office in the morning is small. It’s light. And it uses the most appropriate propulsion technology for the job.

Making it smaller makes it lighter. Making it lighter makes it more efficient. So the motor can be smaller. Now you can remove structure, and it’s lighter again. At the design level there is a positive feedback loop towards efficiency. 

That’s the opposite of that big SUV you used to drive to work. Bigger meant heavier. Bigger engine. Now more structure required for the increased weight. Bigger engine. More structure. At the design level there was a negative feedback loop towards inefficiency. 

The pod that took the 3 of you to your afternoon meeting was necessarily bigger, and in fact was the 4-person pod.

 The pod taking you on an 8 hour drive to visit your relatives is designed to be efficient for long-haul inter-city work.

So, pods come in a variety of sizes and configuration to suit the purpose. 

Still, there are far fewer configurations of pods than there were cars in the old self-drive system. In the old system, fashion was handled by lots of different body styles, choosing your body color, style of wheels and other accessories.  In the pod system, there are a small number of standard physical pod configurations. Styling is done in Photoshop where you can create your own look anytime you want. Or, just pick from tens of thousands of stock designs already available in iTunes. 

By the way, I’m not talking about a monorail, or BART, or anything else that uses rails or other physical guides. Pods drive themselves on already existing streets. Yes, there are new sensors, mechanisms to keep people from getting run over, and other technical goodies. But the ability to operate on existing roads seems like an essential requirement.

We’ll come back to these details later.



  1. This part does not go well with the goals in the introduction. Replacing the driver alone does not make the magic.

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