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Heathrow Airport's autonomous cars (photos)

A closer look at the driverless electric cars shuttling passengers at Heathrow Airport.

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Liane_Yvkoff.JPG

Liane Yvkoff

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Two electric cars at Heathrow Airport

Autonomous cars aren't the future--they're already here and in use in London. Heathrow Airport swapped two diesel buses for 22 electric pods that shuttle passengers from Terminal 5 to the parking lot without the help of a driver.
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Pods at Terminal 5 awaiting passengers

Each electric pod can carry up to four passengers and their luggage.
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Passengers requesting pods at Terminal 5

At the terminal, passengers request a pod and enter their destination to tell the pod where they want to go.
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Pods traveling along dedicated roadway

In the pod, passengers don't have to worry about traffic or the pod's ability to navigate around cars because they travel on designated roadways, and it takes about 5-6 minutes to travel approximately 1.2 miles to the T5 Business Car Park.
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A pod on a roadway at Healthrow Airport

The autonomous vehicles, made by Ultra PRT, have yet to be in an accident, according to an article in The New York Times.
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Pods operating in snow

They operate at a top speed of around 25 mph, and can handle light snow.
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A pod operating in snow

Because the electric vehicles operate only when needed, they're more energy-efficient than the pair of diesel buses that formerly looped the airport, stopping at every drop-off point regardless of the passenger load.

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