JPods, Inc. builds and operates solar-powered computerized personal rapid transportation (PRT) networks. The company deploys networks of Horizontal-Elevators™ that provide commuter range travel using ultra-light, computer controlled vehicles that are suspended from solar powered overhead rail systems.
JPods provides a reliable transportation system for passengers and cargo that runs on renewable energy sources and therefore is not subject to the price or availability of oil. The JPod vehicle (PodCar) has the capacity to hold about six people or a cargo pallet yet it uses 7-15% the energy required by current modes of urban transport such as rail and car.
- Started in 1999.
- Patent #6,810,817 was issued in 2004 for technology surrounding distributed computer networks that transport physical packets in Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) networks using PodCars.
- Company founders are mostly West Point graduates working to end risks from America's oil dependence.
- Ownership: private.
- Self funded to date.
- Sign Letter of Intent for $100+ million to build "shovel ready" project.
- $8 billion in Private Activity Bonds at FTA.
- Raise $2-6 million for Greenville ownership.
Use of Proceeds
- Build theme park scale system in a commercial setting introducing the technology to the community.
- Establish "shovel ready" protocols.
- Cost Breakdown is estimated to be 15% labor, 40% materials, 30% regulatory, 10% marketing and administration, and 5% miscellaneous.
- JPods' objective is to build the Physical-Internet™ with solar-powered, computerized PRT networks that provide circulatory systems for economic communities and move packets of people and cargo like the Internet moves data packets, highways move cars, etc. Similar to the Internet concept, these PRT networks will provide feeder and connector networks to existing rail, airports and road infrastructure.
- The initial target market is commuter range travel with payloads less than 1,200 pounds. The overhead tracks allow for bike paths to be created underneath the PRT network.
- The economic model is JPods, Inc. builds the networks and sells them to Local Mobility Companies (LMCs) which are owned by private developers; the LMC's charge fares for the use of the system. The PRT cost per vehicle-mile is about $0.06 versus the car cost per vehicle-mile of about $0.56. The fare price will be set by markets.
- To achieve rapid deployment of the PRT network, the goal is to form strong allies and collaborative partnerships.
About 88 million US families (80%) live in urban areas spending about $10,300 per year for transportation. Except in New York City where 31% access to transportation as a service cutting costs by $2,500 per year. JPods will provide 70% access providing potential savings of $440 billion a year to build the infrastructure to cut these costs. Cargo volumes are expected to be about 15% of passenger volumes or generate about $66 billion in fare revenue. The world market is expected to be about 5x the US market based upon the ratio of the size of the world economy to size of the US economy.
Product Development Milestones
- Established baseline technology - completed in 1999 and patent issued in 2004.
- Completed 20 foot PRT demonstration in 2006.
- Letter of Interest/Intent for sites: Kunming (China), Mall of America, De Anza College (Cupertino, CA), Lancaster (CA), NASA (AL).
- Find large scale users - in progress with Walmart, China municipalities, etc.
- Build commercial grade, regulatory approved PRT networks - pending capital funding.
- About 500,000 miles of PRT networks in the US can displace 70% of oil powered urban transport, saving $600 billion per year spent to import oil; 8.3 year payback on entire network.
- Feeder networks and cross connections to existing rail, airports, and other hubs.
- China municipalities.
- Airport networks that connect terminals, hotels, and car rentals with the economic community.
- LMCs/Developers that will own and operate networks. Local interests should own local transport.
- Oil Dependency: eliminates dependency on oil energy to move people and cargo.
- Congestion: provides separate and additional networks to the existing road and rail systems.
- Pollution: renewable energy system that does not emit CO2 gas.
- Safety: existing networks have low injury rates, especially when compared to the higher injury rates of highway networks.
- Time Saving: average travel speed for JPods PRT is 30 miles per hour versus 24 for cars, 18 for trains, and 8-12 for buses.
- Efficiency: watt-hours per passenger mile for JPods PRT are 127wh versus 1,033wh for cars, 900wh for trains, and 1246wh for buses.
- Transportation Costs: decreases the cost per vehicle ton to move people and cargo.
- Construction & Operating Costs: construction costs are estimated to be $8-14 million per mile. Operating costs (power and operation) are estimated to be $.06 per vehicle mile. Replacement costs are estimated to be $.18 per vehicle mile.
- Economic Productivity: increases productivity, efficiency, and economic health.
- Provides low cost, efficient transportation for people and cargo.
- Provides the high quality service of a chauffeured car at a fraction of the cost or transport by bus.
- Deploys a self-reliant, renewable energy system for transportation of people and cargo and reduces dependency on oil.
- Helps communities and economies to prosper by providing efficient and clean transportation.
- Provides networks that are low cost to build and operate. JPods networks use 85% less energy than vehicles using fossil fuels, and the low vehicle weight radically cuts highway maintenance costs.
- Increases disposable income by decreasing transportation costs per family.
- Morgantown, WV PRT network is 9 miles long and has delivered 110 million injury-free passenger-miles since beginning operations in 1975. Built in response to the 1973 oil embargo, the network contains 18-passenger vehicles that are not cost effective due to high vehicle mass. JPods drives the vehicle mass toward zero to obtain low costs and energy needs.
- ULTraPRT (UK) Heathrow network opened in 2010 and has delivered 500,000 injury-free trips.
- VectusPRT (Sweden) is building in Korea.
- Other small competitors are MISTER (Poland), Taxi2000 (US) and several other small companies. ULTra is the only company with significant contracts including Heathrow Airport (UK) and City of Masdar (Abu Dhabi).
- Large company competition from Siemens, GE, etc. should be expected because of the large margins, large scale of the opportunity, and government interface.
- Management Track Record: A strong team leads the company with an outstanding track record in leading manufacturing, logistics, process controls, power generation and high tech companies.
- Product Design: Vehicles hanging from overhead rails (as opposed to riding on tracks) employs superior physics, solves congestion issues in cities, reduces energy consumption, and increases ride stability and safety.
- Patents: Patent #6,810,817 was issued in 2004 for technology surrounding distributed computer networks that transport physical packets in PRT networks. About 50 more patents have been researched and identified. During initial deployment it is expected that many more patents will be identified.
- Scalability: There is a deep bench of extremely experienced leaders and managers contained in a proprietary database that can assist in rapid deployment of the JPods networks.
- Market Readiness: The markets are ready for local, community based PRT's due to the recent oil crisis and focus on independence from oil.
- Hedgehog Concept: Passion is for on-demand mobility and efficiency; Best in the World at on-demand commuter range transport of payloads less than 1,200 pounds; Economic Metric is profits per passenger/freight mile.
- Paradigm Shift: Gladwell's book, "Outliers" documents that it takes about 10 years of preparation to drive a paradigm shift; JPods has been in existence for 10 years and has achieved this level of preparation.
- Start small, execute well, iterate relentlessly.
- Delight customers, the fare box payers.
- Leverage theme park approach to give new communities experience, standardize JPods deployment practices, and establish safe and innovative regulatory practices.
- Focus on niche solutions. We cannot solve the world's problem, but we can solve someone's problem. Build dense networks in niches with paybacks of 1-5 years.
- Strive for at least a 31% network density (NYC subways) to make communities Economic Lifeboats, durable against oil price and supply shocks. That density saves families a car payment per month.
- Focus on the customer, fare box payer, versus government sources of subsidies.
- Provide a superior technology platform.
- Enlist strong local partners and alliances. Use ex-military networks. Leverage open source practices.
- There is currently no strategic supplier risk; materials and components to build JPods networks are commodities. Future prices and labor shortages will likely increase as demand for networks increase.
- The buyers (owner/operators) of the networks are expected to be private.
- Capital exceeding $8 billion is available to support network expansion of "shovel ready" projects. Additional capital stated an intent to invest.