PLP Labs NuMo Stockholm
Stockholm was the setting for much of the transport study

PLP Labs unveils ‘the next best thing to teleportation’

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Nicholas Fearn

The London-based architecture firm has teamed up with Swedish research institute RISE and LogistikCentrum, a specialist in the research and development of transport systems, to unveil a protocol for smart cities.

The organisations put forward their vision for NuMo, an urban mobility system supporting on-demand, emission-free and autonomous mass transit.

PLP Labs said NuMo has been “developed as a direct response to the present problems of urban mobility” and to offer an “exhaust-free, non-stop and high capacity mobility system rendering the conventional multi-modal transport obsolete”.

NuMo provides a point-to-point service where users make a booking through an app, before an autonomous vehicle picks them up and joins other NuMos in high-speed platoons that run on dedicated networks.

When the vehicle nears the destination, it will disengage from the platform to travel independently and take the users to their destination.

This, according to PLP Labs, renders the conventional multi-modal transport obsolete. In a release, the firm explained: “The commute from home to work will no longer entail hopping from car to train to underground.

“Instead, users will enjoy a form of personalised mass transit offering high speed and continuous journeys directly to their destination without any transfers or stops.”

As well as providing consumers with an affordable and efficient mode of transport, NuMo will, the partners claim, also tackle existing problems of urban mobility. These include congestion, poor air quality, decreasing travel speeds, road accidents and the inefficient mixing of traffic modes.

PLP Labs said: “The system takes advantage of dynamic platooning, which allows cars to move within milliseconds of one another in a continuous flow at a steady speed without ever slowing down. The research has revealed that this model enables NuMo to provide far greater capacity than conventional public transport.”

Although NuMo is at the concept stage, PLP Labs said it will be gradually introduced within cities and said NuMo vehicles will share bus lanes in the first instance. However, new infrastructure will eventually be implemented to create an automated transport network comprised of above-ground, underground and underwater tunnels.

The report shows how this technology can be applied in cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, London and New York, with the proposed system accommodating 3,600 vehicles per hour.

Lars Hesselgren, from PLP Labs, said:  “Automatic electric vehicles do not in themselves lead to efficient and sustainable transportation.

“Their full potential can only be reached with proper infrastructure support and control. NuMo rethinks urban mobility, fusing AEVs with infrastructure planning and design to offer an integrated way to get around the city. It is the next best thing to teleportation.”

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