Firstco was delighted to sponsor a presentation entitled ‘Ultra – Heathrow and Beyond’ at the IET in Central London. The evening presented industry peers and students with the opportunity to meet the people behind the ground-breaking Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) system, now running at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5.

Dr Chris Featherstone, Senior Test Engineer for Ultra Global PRT offered a technical insight into how the pod system (the PRT system) operates and explored the future possibilities for this exciting technology before taking questions from the floor.

"The pod clearly demonstrates benefits and importantly addresses issues that are not unique to Heathrow. There are significant opportunities in a wide range of applications globally including airports and campuses and we look forward to where we can take this in the future."

Levels of satisfaction as measured by Heathrow’s own research had passenger feedback on buses at 3.6 out of 5. However, with PRT the same passenger group scored satisfaction as high as 4.7, making PRT the single highest scoring service available across the airport.

Mark Calnan, Chairman of Firstco Ltd who opened the talk, commented: "We’re delighted to welcome so many guests to this presentation and be able to share the insights into this extraordinary project. The level of interest shown tonight and questions raised is testament to the excitement and interest PRT generates – not only from the members of the public using the pod but also people within the industry. Firstco is proud of its association with many ground-breaking integrated transport projects and the Heathrow pod is the latest in a long line for us – this one offering a potential solution to the issue of the ‘last mile’ of many journeys."

Firstco was engaged by Ultra Global PRT as the commissioning phase migrated into full operational service and continues to support the Heathrow pod controls and communications systems.

The Heathrow pod system operates with up to 21 battery-powered fully automated pods running on a dedicated guide-way under the control of an automated central scheduling and monitoring system. The system runs between Terminal 5 and its long-stay business car park.

Thanks to its intelligent control, the system provides an on-demand personal service with over 80% of passengers able to walk straight on and complete their journey in 5 minutes. With lightweight infrastructure, low power consumption, zero emissions at point of use and near silent running, the system is sympathetic to the environment and has taken 50,000 bus journeys per year off the road.