An Indian city is getting driverless taxi pods that travel above the street



CHRIS WELLER, APR. 11, 2016, 2:30 PM

In an Indian city that hasn't had a functioning government in 40 years (these days, it's run mostly by corporations), federal oversight from New Delhi is finally relieving some of the burden — with driverless taxi pods.

In 2001, Gurgaon, India had 173,000 people. Today, it's nearing one million. All those extra people have made traveling on roadways incredibly difficult, to the point where the government sees leaving the roads altogether as one of the only immediate solutions.

That's where the Metrino personal rapid transit (PRT) pods come in.

India's federal government has flirted with the idea of opening a rapid transport line to reduce congestion for years, and Gurgaon's PRT pilot project seems poised to be the first of its kind. In the coming weeks, the government will open bidding to global corporations to fund the project's construction.

If completed — and the plan is to complete it within the year — the track will feature 16 stations over the eight­ mile span between New Delhi and Gurgaon, the Times of India reports.

Each driverless taxi pod will be able to hold five passengers, and there will be 1,100 pods in operation. So even if they're all filled to capacity, the pods could only lift 5,500 motorists from the roadways at a given time, which may not relieve the city's overall traffic burden.

As Business Insider reports, people will have the option to pay more for an express pod, which rushes them straight to their destination without stops in between.

For all other routes, the pods work similar to any other public transit system. Passengers wait at a station for the pods to dock before boarding. The pods rise along an elevated track, eventually traveling at average speed of 40 mph.

Under the terms of the agreement, whichever company invests in the PRT system will make its money back in 25 years through ticket sales.

The entire project is expected to cost roughly $136 million. That's not cheap, but if it saves people precious minutes in their commute, it might be worth it.