Center for Environmental Science Applications (CESA)

Finding solutions to sustainability challenges by linking ideas, people and resources


In 2009, CESA helped evaluate new, safe, clean, energy-efficient Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) solutions for inter- and intra-urban mobility. Building on ASU faculty expertise in sustainability, systems engineering, geography and urban design, we held discussions with NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Maricopa Association of Governments, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Cisco Systems about creating a multisectoral and multidisciplinary working group that could compare several of the many PRT technologies currently in development worldwide. For instance, SkyTran, designed by California-based Unimodal, Inc., uses MagLev propulsion and relatively inexpensive plug-and-play construction methods. PRT has generated considerable controversy among individuals and groups opposed to large, government-sponsored infrastructure projects. It is an example of an emerging, paradigm-shifting technology that could some day significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with urban transportation.
The PRT discussion group included faculty members Michael Kuby, Aaron Golub, Ram Pendyala, Pitu Mirchandani, Paul Westerhoff, Alan Murray, and Jon Fink, along with graduate students Paul Padegimas and Eddie Burgess.