Manufacturer Categories: "Established" Through "Emerging"
The October 2010 San Jose Podcar Conference (http://podcarcity.org/sanjose/) defined three PRT manufacturer categories. Manufacturers from different categories were charged different amounts to exhibit at the conference. The three categories were as follows:
Category 1: Established Manufacturers. Definition: Manufacturer with a full scale system, tested and approved by a legal authority, installing or is about to install a commercial system.
Manufacturers: ULTra PRT, Vectus, 2getthere
Category 2. Definition: Manufacturer with a full scale system, undergoing tests and under approval by a legal authority, have installed a test system.
Category 3. Definition: Manufacturer developing a full scale system, preparing tests and preparing approval by a legal authority, have installed a test or model system. Category 3 manufacturers must have funding for their development in excess of 500,000 USD and at least one full time employee.
Manufacturer: Beamways. Three manufacturers are on cusp of qualifying. Please see the discussion below.
Category 4 was not defined, but this could be applied to the many emerging PRT technologies. Jerry Schneider has compiled a list of many different PRT and advanced transit designs: http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/techtable.htm
Category 1 manufacturers spent upwards of 10 years moving from Category 3 to passenger operation, but many emerging PRT designers believe they can shorten the commercialization timeline.
A prominent example of a Category 3 development effort was the 1km figure 8 shaped ULTra Cardiff Test Track. This effort began in 2001, with a public launch event in January of 2002. ULTra PRT also undertook smaller Category 3 development efforts in the late 1990s.
Cardiff Test Track historic 2002 info: http://www.cities21.org/ultra/index.html
"We wanted the Podcar Conference to have a clear and transparent way of dealing with the emerging technologies, to encourage them to attain 'Category 3,' where they form a company, obtain investment funding, and undertake a proof of concept project that can be evaluated and documented."
The Podcar Conference category definitions should not be taken as the final word on an optimal PRT categorization scheme. There is hope that an independent organization such as ATRA might refine the categorization scheme and update the manufacturer list going forward.
Three manufacturers on the Category 3 cusp:
1) CRITICAL MOVE. "Open guideway" PRT designs can undertake interesting at-grade development projects for a small budget. Efforts like Critical Move's Hospital Rovisco Pais pilot project could qualify for Category 3. Critical Move is a "not-quite-PRT" automated vehicle application where pedestrian/vehicle conflicts can occur because of non-exclusive guideway. Hence, the Category 3 precedent could include non-exclusive guideway pilot projects and test tracks - technologies that are making progress towards becoming PRT.
2) TAXI2000. Back a few years ago, T2K had an active engineering program to develop their scale model, based on slot car technology: "The Alpha system shows an actual working scale model of Skyweb Express, featuring our proprietary control system technology. This technology also operates TrakEdit, our propriety simulation software. http://www.taxi2000.com/images/movies/AlphaVehicles.wmv ." This was a commendable way to make engineering progress on a very small budget.
3) UNIMODAL / SKYTRAN. In Skytran's response to San Jose's October 2008 Request for Interest, Skytran described an interesting $1.5M Phase I 400' test track. Once this project receives funding and work commences, then Skytran should qualify as Category 3.
"Phase I - Build 400 ft loop." $1.5 million, 6 months. "Phase I: The first of two technology demonstration phases to be conducted at the NASA Ames Research Center. In phase I, a circular guideway, 400 feet in circumference, will be constructed with two vehicles. This guideway will not include switching and offline guideways. This phase will start on 1/1/09 and be completed in mid 2009."