A London-based architecture firm has unveiled Cartube - a concept aiming at literally burying the capital’s traffic problems.

PLP Architecture’s vision combines two modes of transport, electric cars and mass transit, into an underground road system.

The network would integrate existing motorways with small bore tunnels. Cars would be automatically controlled and allowed to move within milliseconds of one another without slowing down.

PLP director of research Lars Hesselgren said: “Cartube is a direct response to mass transit and traffic congestion in the world’s largest cities.

“Moving high-speed car traffic below ground will revolutionise our concept of the city, allowing our urban spaces to be designed not for cars, but for people.

Cartube

“Cartube has the potential to be the next best thing to teleportation and will revolutionise exiting cities and allow for unprecedented urban forms.”

Users would book Cartube trips via a smartphone, choosing the start and end point.

The app would calculate a fare and an estimated arrival time based on the optimal route through the network.

Drivers could take the trip in their own cars or available public cars and would come off a motorway or other connected road into the Cartube tunnel.

As the driver approaches the Platoon (the Cartube tunnel) driverless mode would be engaged, giving the Cartube system control of the vehicle.

Cartube

The driver could then take their hands off the wheel and choose from a range of entertainment while the system delivers the car to its destination.

The car would then be parked and the driver able to exit, using a lift to get back to the outside world.

The system would then store the car for an amount of time specified by the driver and it would then be returned to them when needed.

If a driver needed to access the car via a different entrance, the vehicle could be moved to the right location by the system.

Lars said the benefits to such an ambitious transport system would include less pollution, more space for parks and open spaces above ground and speed.

Cartube

“The one thing that lengthens journey time is stopping,” he said. “So we need to figure out some kind of network where cars never stop.

“When you travel in London the average speed is 15mph and the average in the tube is not much better as you have all the changes and stops. So the major benefit would be speed.”

But with it being such an ambitious project that would require decades of planning, fundraising and work, is it possible?

Lars said: “It will happen if the major players take it up. At the moment we just want to get it into the discussion.”

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