BENGALURU: Travelling in driverless pod cars might soon be a reality in Bengaluru. With Indian Institute of Science (IISc) clearing the technology to be used for these cars, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has now called for tenders. It is inviting companies that can provide technology for these cars to run at a speed of 60km per hour.
Pod-cars or pod taxis will carry six passengers at a time for short distances while travelling above the ground level. The tracks will be similar to those of the Metro rail but will take up lesser space. The pillars will be constructed with fabricated steel and concrete. However, these cars will be available only in places that already have Metro connectivity.
A senior BBMP official, who did not want to be named, said, “The waiting period for a passenger will be less than a minute. The stations will be off track, which means that the pod cars will take a deviation and stop. This is similar to bus bays. People can either buy tickets at these stations or can swipe cards. There is also provision for a passenger to stop the vehicle using buttons (similar to lifts).”
BBMP has proposed a 30km stretch for these cars with five points. The distances between two points will be 5-6km. These pod cars will act as taxis connecting Metro stations to the nearest destination.
The bidder has to design, build, finance, operate the project for 30 years. The last date for applying is December 14.
The project was announced by Bengaluru Development Minister K J George this May.BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad said, “Initially, three globally recognised companies showed interest in the project. We had given their details to the expert committee of Center for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning of the Indian Institute of Science for evaluation. The committee then prepared a Bengaluru specific project outline and using this we have called for tender.”
He added that BBMP will not invest any money. “We will get a share of their profit. We have given a specified route for these taxis, which will act like last mile connectivity,” he added.
Pod cars will not ease traffic: Expert
With the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike calling for tenders for driverless pod cars or pod cabs in Bengaluru city, the government seems confident in making the project a reality by 2019.
However, the project has received mixed response.
Traffic expert Prof M N Sreehar said that since the vehicle is small, it will take less number of passengers. Also, it can only be operated on designated routes. The pod cars will function only in the areas that have Metro connectivity.
Sreehar added that the state government could instead use the funds to develop the city roads and also operate more BMTC buses for last mile connectivity.