1. How do your patents affect your system?
The first patent protects a variety of current and future system elements and their combination; the most important being “contactless rail switching”. This enables additions on any new line, intersection or station without physically modifying any of the other parts of the rail infrastructure. As a result, flexibility of the system, speed and costs of being able to add and modify the network topology is unmatched by any other PRT design. Subsequent patents are concerned with more detailed solutions of the propulsion system.
2. How does the station operate?
Stations have parallel bays. It doesn’t matter which vehicle is ready to go first or where a new arriving Pod will dock. There is no blocking of Pods, as there is with all “Sequential” stops, e.g. tramways, buses etc. A Pod joins the line when the system knows that there is an upcoming gap in the stream of vehicles. A Pod departing from the station will merge into that gap. The Pod will be accelerated by the computers on board and the overall control system. It is similar to merging into traffic on motorways but without human error.
3. How do you accommodate 100 Pods per km and prevent accidents?
200 Pods p/km is the highest density. In order for the vehicle to merge into the stream, there will need to be a gap of at least a 15 m between two adjacent Pods. Merging will happen at the speed of 50-60 km/h. There are provisions in place for aborting this process even at the last moment.
4. How is the destination station selected?
By touch panel or voice activated selection by means of a simple confirmation dialogue with the vehicle’s computer system. It will also be possible to change one’s destination during travel in the same way.
5. How do you prevent vandalism or malfunctioning?
If there is a malfunction or vandalism, the service center is alerted and takes appropriate action. Our system design and its monitoring will detect malfunctions immediately, sending the vehicle for service. The very small number of moving parts means minimal mechanical stress on all components. Vandalism will be prevented by many sensors detecting both mechanical and chemical parameters indicating misbehavior. Passengers will know about cameras recording events inside and outside the vehicles and stations. Any alarm raised by the sensors will activate a live connection with the operator and video material will be used as evidence in court if required. The system operator or even the Pod system itself will divert the Pod automatically to the nearest police station in case of any vandalism detection.
6. How will the system be supplied with energy?
METRINO is powered by traction lines, similar to light rail. Each pod will have a small battery which is needed to support electronics operations and will also serve as backup power to drive the vehicle to the nearest stop in case of emergency. An average of 1-2 KW is needed for moving a Pod at roughly 50 km-hr.
7. How will the system be protected from terrorism?
The destruction of one or more guideway supporting poles will not stop the system, it will only render a given section unusable. There will be a small number of people affected in the Pods. This is why the METRINO system is “unattractive” as a terrorist target. Protection is easier due to a multitude of cameras.
8. What are the safety features regarding children entering an unmanned station?
If children obey the rules, have tickets and can operate a simple user interface (touch and voice), there is no need to prevent them from using the system. If desirable, the system via voice recognition and weight/headcount calculation could demand additional information or prevent them from using the system. METRINO will also provide features where parents can program their children’s tickets to be valid only for certain stops, e.g. school or home.
9. What about accommodating the stops and the landscape?
The footprint of the 5 vehicle stop will be approx. the same as a typical bus stop, with the addition of 6 m of space for the ascending/descending guideway sections. METRINO will travel with at least 5 m of space underneath the Pods. Tel/power lines, traffic lights etc. in cities are mostly below this level. To accommodate specific infrastructure, METRINO can have higher posts, a small problem compared to building a new road through the same area.
10 Will existing trees have to be severely trimmed or cut to make room for the moving Pods?
It will not be necessary to cut many trees, if any, as METRINO’s lines can be suspended over the center of streets. Removing a few cars from streets is ecologically equivalent to having more trees.
11 How can a single Pod reach a certain pre-determined destination when it has to cross many routes and pass through numerous intersections?
The Metrino system works in the same way as the collision-free intersections of freeways. Pods from a station will merge into the main lines in the same way as vehicles from a petrol station merge into a highway.
12. How can so many Pods per km get their share of power supply effectively and safely?
No more power will be needed by METRINO than on tram or train lines. The system will have an overall better performance than trains. It is not the number of vehicles per km but how much overall load needs to be moved over a given length of line.