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How will the city of the future look like?

Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robots, drones, autonomous green vehicles, 3D / 4D printing, renewable energy, virtual reality (VR),leap motion, eye controlled technology are just part of the present and new technologies that are here or will be here in the near future to influence our lives.

The cities are evolving as well, by becoming Smart Cities. From Singapore to Amsterdam and Barcelona, from Dubai to Stockholm,from New York to Manchester and even Alba Iulia in Romania, information and communication technology is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and government. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses.

The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology and various physical devices connected to the network (IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving.

According to the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017, quoted by Forbes, which analyses all aspects that make up sustainability and quality of life in 180 key world cities, New York is again the smartest city in the world, followed by London and Paris.

To compile the index, the authors analyze 79 indicators across 10 different dimensions of urban life: the economy, technology, human capital, social cohesion, international outreach, the environment, mobility and transportation, urban planning, public administration and governance. The results show that almost all of the dimension measured in the ranking are led by European and North American cities. The exception is technology, where Taipei rules.

In top 10 are present three other American cities (Boston 4th, San Francisco 5th, and Washington, D.C. 6th), two other European cities (Berlin 9th and Amsterdam 10th), and two Asian (Seoul 7th and Tokyo 8th).

Moreover, according to CityMetric, Singapore is also a leading example of a smart city, and is constantly evolving its “city brain,” a backbone of technologies used to help control pollution, monitor traffic, allocate parking, communicate with citizens, and even issue traffic fines. “The behavioral aspect is not to be overlooked. Singapore’s “brain” is attempting to modify human behavior – for example, one system rewards drivers for using recommended mapped routes, and punishes those who do not. Ultimately, Singapore’s planners hope to discourage driving, and guide most commuters to making greater use of public transportation. The city is planning for 100m “smart objects” including smart traffic lights, lamp posts, sensors, and cameras on its roadways, which will be used to monitor and enforce laws,” wrote Fast Future for CityMetric.

But how will those smart cities look in the future and what can we expect from them and the specialists living and creating in them? “The number of smart cities around the world is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years and by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in smart cities,” believes Nick Ismail in his piece for information-age.com.

Moreover, it appears that 2030 will bring the introduction of Connected street lights, which will stream data between millions of devices and improve city services such as light, traffic, air quality, public safety and parking. Lighting technology will be at the heart of urban life in 2030 as well, helping deliver more sustainable and better-connected smart cities. “And if that wasn’t enough, by 2050 take-aways will be delivered by drones, replacing motorbikes and cars. One pizza manufacturer has already tested drone delivery and some predict these automated flying machines will fill the skies replacing the couriers of today,” adds Ismail.

Flying taxis by 2020 – a myth or a real posibility?

According to IGN News, UberAir wants to bring on-demand electric flying taxis to Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth by 2020 and a trip across Los Angeles via air would be roughly the same price as a ride in an UberX.

“Uber’s participation in NASA’s UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) Project will help the company’s goal of starting demonstration flights of uberAIR in select US cities by 2020. Uber wants to “explore other collaboration opportunities with NASA” with a view to open <<a new market of urban air mobility>>,” the ride-sharing company said in a statement, quoted by Economic Times.

Moreover, the flights will have a pilot during initial flights, but could be automated in the future.

“Uber is working with the cities of Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai to get pilot programs launched. Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price both had expressed support in making the metropolitan area the first to experiment with VTOL and Uber’s Elevate pilot program. Uber also entered into a partnership with Dubai’s road and transportation authority to study demand in the region to work on pricing and network optimization. Dubai is also where Uber will attempt at unveiling the first public demonstration as part of the 2020 World Expo,” wrote Nathan Ingraham for engadget.com.

Accodring to Sarwant Singh and his opinion for Forbes, there are over 15 start-ups, globally, that are actively involved in building a future flying car, by his firm’s count. “The majority of these companies are based in the United States, however, there are participants from a host of other countries including the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Israel, Russia and Japan. Companies such as PAL-VTerrafugia, AeromobilEhangE-VoloUrban AeronauticsKitty Hawk and Lilium Aviation, have completed at least one test flight of their flying car prototypes. PAL-V has gone a step further and initiated the pre-sales of its Liberty Pioneer model flying car, which the company aims to deliver by the end 2018,” said Singh.

Also, Airbus plans to test Vahana, their personal mobility flying car by 2018, and  aims to build a mass transit flying vehicle as part of its long term air transport strategy. Furthermore, the company showcased an air drone powered flying car at the Geneva Motor Show, which it plans to develop in collaboration with Italdesign.

As the advantages are easily seen by everybody (less time spent in traffic, non pollution, better views, higher adrenaline, etc), we see no disadvantages yet besides the possible accidents that might happen until the technology is well established.

Still, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg’s Max Chafkin he thinks flying cars are a dumb idea for city travel in a profile about his tunnel plans, on Business Insider. 

“Obviously, I like flying things,” Musk told Bloomberg. “But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.” According to Business Insider, Musk said flying cars need to generate a lot of downward force to not fall out of the sky, which would result in a lot of wind and noise for people on the ground. He also said there’s a risk of falling debris if falling cars were to get in a mid-air fender bender.

More reasons for not wanting flying cars you can find in this article. But we are pro.

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