From The Alcalde
13. Create a futuristic transit system.
Texas’ capital city ranks among the country’s most gridlocked, 2012 could be the costliest year ever at the pump, and our carbon footprint grows ever larger.
The chairman of UT’s Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department, Tad Patzek, proposes a solution: podcars.
Podcars are driverless vehicles that run on electricity-powered guideways suspended over existing highways. The concept may seem futuristic, but such cars have already been launched in countries like Sweden and England.
“Podcars cost 10 times less to operate and are 11 times more energy-efficient than today’s vehicles,” Patzek points out. “Also, photovoltaic panels can be installed on the guideways to augment power supply.”
Patzek is moving the concept forward in the U.S. by collaborating with Ron Swenson, one of the scientists leading the charge on podcar development. They both serve on the board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, which examines the issues around fossil fuel production.
Podcars are already transporting people at one of the world’s busiest airports, Heathrow in London. Given that, Patzek says, “there is no reason why they couldn’t move people between the main UT campus in Austin and the Pickle campus 10 miles north. This would be a convincing demonstration project for the city.” —Katharine Grieve