Easily distributed Personal Rapid Transit (ESPRIT)
In recent years car sharing schemes have started to appear in a number of European cities. People are able to pick up a car and drop it off at locations across the city but often the vehicles are not left in a suitable place. The project is looking at developing prototypes that will allow easier redistribution across the operating network to increase usage: these will be the Easily Distributed Personal Rapid Transit (ESPRIT) vehicles.
'One-way’ system works extremely well for the hirer. However, there is often an inherent imbalance in how vehicles are dispersed around the operating network such that the operator is required to intervene to rebalance locational supply and demand, vehicle by vehicle, location by location and day by day. This intervention can be considerable and hence expensive to the extent that some schemes can be rendered economically unviable and in many instances these disproportionate costs are preventing further growth of what is otherwise a potentially very sustainable part of an integrated public service network.
There is little that can be done to create a ‘normal’ distribution of vehicles but what ESPRIT proposes is a far more efficient process of rebalancing locational supply and demand.
The ESPRIT solution envisions an all new, purpose designed and built, electric vehicle that has the capability to be stacked (a bit like a supermarket trolley) in to a road train of up to eight vehicles. The vehicles can then be driven by one driver to the location(s) where they are most needed, thereby substantially reducing rebalancing costs. All transit locations will be equipped with charging facilities that will charge up to eight stacked vehicles from a single charging point, with the charge being transferred between stacked vehicles in a priority sequence controlled by the software. They can be driven with 2 or 4 seat options. The vehicle provides greater energy efficiency through a custom built light weight body, fast charging batteries with brake energy recovery.
The electric vehicles proposed have a range of 10 kilometres and are designed to act as feeder vehicles to other public service transport routes, providing a solution to making public transport more economically viable for low density environments such as suburban areas.
ESPRIT presents a forward thinking solution for the urban mobility systems of the future, providing local mobility services, accessible in location and price for all local people. It offers an alternative to owning a car and provides an energy efficient alternative that is easy to drive and safe to use. Importantly, it provides the ‘last mile’ solution for many public transport journeys.