Some time ago I started thinking about how to reduce our dependence on the private car. Mainly this was a reaction against the noise and obstruction in towns. My first ideas were on the line of what is now called PRT and has been realised in the form of the Ultra system installed and running very successfully at Heathrow Airport.
At some point I started considering how a system might be based on a standardised cabin which did not have any wheels or motive power itself, but could be transferred onto a variety of vehicles optimised for different journey types. There seemed to be some advantages.
I had not got very far with working out the details of this idea when I came across an internet posting by Jörg Schwiezer, who had come up with exactly the same idea. After a fleeting moment of paranoia, I got in touch and we agreed to collaborate:
“Modular Automated Individual Transport (MAIT) is an innovative ground transportation concept for passenger and light freight that combines the flexibility of the automobile with the advantages of public transport. This revolutionary concept is based on the automated transport of passengers or freight in small container-like pods and provides driverless, 24h on-demand, non-stop, door-to-door transportation. Applying state-of-the-art computer and control technology, MAIT offers a highly efficient individual transport, which is safer, more environmentally friendly and available to everyone, in contrast to the present transport systems.
MAIT International is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Dr Jörg Schweizer and John Greenwood to further the idea of MAIT. It was registered in Germany in 2000.”
We set up a website soon after this and I was responsible for the section about the mechanics
The idea has developed considerably since then. At first the concept was that there would be three components, cabins, transferrers and vehicles. and I spent a lot of time devising an elegant means for attaching cabins to the vehicle and the transfer machines so that it was strongly constrained in all degrees of freedom at all stages of the transfer.
We soon realised that the concept would find acceptance for freight long before passenger use. This eventually led is an EU FP7 funding application in 2008
In 2016 we decided that transport technologys, such as the driverless car and and that the organisation was no longer needed and was closed down.
Since then I have been considering how the cabins might be moved by fixed systems.