Nagpur: Three cities – Varanasi, Nagpur, and Gurugram – have been shortlisted to test pod cars, reports Mint.
Pod cars are driverless, ball-shaped cars which will run along a pre-determined course. This is one out of the six proposals NITI Aayog had proposed to improve India’s transportation system.
Varanasi and Nagpur may have been handpicked as they are represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari respectively in the Lok Sabha.
The vehicles will be built by NASA’s Skytran and UK’s Ultra Global PRT, at first. The two companies, which were left out of the four initially chosen, have to partner with Indian firms by forming joint ventures. The pod cars will be tested over a 1-km test stretch.
“The expert panel formed to lay down safety standards for pod taxis in the country has shortlisted the two cities in addition to Gurugram for the companies to build a prototype for a 1-km stretch to showcase their technology. Two of these three cities will finally showcase the prototypes from the respective firms,” sources told Mint.
NITI Aayog’s Transport expert Manoj Singh stated that was Varanasi as a “good choice”. He reasoned, “It’s a congested city and overhead pod taxis can be experimented with to see how this mobility solution works. Besides, being a heritage city, pod taxi can be a tourist attraction if managed and planned well.”
NITI Aayog has asked the authorities to first run a 1-km pilot stretch before the project runs in full force as the technologies are still “unproven,” making it one of the reasons why the project has been delayed.
A committee of professionals with years of experience in their field was formed under a transport expert Dharam Adhikari. The panel will lay down the standards and specifications for Public Rail Transport systems and will present a report this month.