The streets of the future will be alive

The streets of the future will be alive

future_city_01_by_everlite-d6p50onStreets, infrastructures, new concepts.

It was around lunch time when Paul exited the building and jumped on the street with a fast pace. A robot was cleaning silently the walkside. He stopped in front of a “choose your tomorrow street panel” and touched the screen to start: he voted for the road to be green, the trees illuminated in blue at night and the billboards communicating the events planned for the weekend rather than advertising. The system would collect all the polls and a software would instruct the hardware with the wishes of the majority.

He then moved forward to reach the cafeteria just one block down the street. He was about to cross the street, when the crosswalk illuminated in red, giving him an alert about traffic conditions. In fact all the three lanes for bicycles, driverless cars and human driven cars were quite crowded.

The (flexi)lanes were three per direction, he knew that in a few hours they would have changed, allowing the big traffic volume moving outside the town to flow smoothly. The street was orange that day, a colour returned by the piezoelectric panels under it. They were coupled with solar panels covered by a film which helped the braking. That was a marvellous idea, because it transformed the pavement in an energy generator, which also stored power to illuminate the street at night and defrosted the surface during the rigid winter period.


At 31december2099 we don’t believe in flying cars (yet) or in that kind of neat and tidy unpersonal street showed in the sci-fi pictures. But for sure streets will face an evolution based upon a combination of spontaneous self-organisation and top-down central planning. Some inspirational scenarios drafted by famous architects and designers, related to New York, can be found at the website of the Home of Future.

Volkswagen-Hover-Car-flying-down-street-2It’s quite obvious now that driverless or robot driven cars are coming, this is a natural evolution of the current technologies (cruise control, collision avoidance and automatic lane change). After an initial period where humans will have some issues in trusting such machines, they will reduce congestion and make the roads safer. Machines are much better at following rules than humans and riverless cars could also automatically choose the best route to avoid congestion. The streets will be designed to adapt to this scenario. The british Telegraph describes it in a pretty accurate way with this post.

Last but not least, the idea of the streets paved with solar panels, is already being experimented in the US by an innovative company called Solar Roadways. Exciting pictures and renderings can be found here. They explain pretty well the reasons why it is feasible also from an economic point of view.

It’s equally interesting an experiment undergoing in the Netherlands, about street glowing paint, that would help night visibility. It’s less futuristic, but quite fascinating to watch it in action in this youtube video.

Also the streetwalks changing colour is not a dream. If you are curious about more details, the Korean designer Jae Min Lim explain the solution, along with other innovative options (including pictures), at this link.

The idea of the street panel allowing the citizen to customize the neighborhood is mine, or at least I haven’t spot yet around the web. It’s still far in the future, but the option seems to me very democratic and potentially applicable as the future streets will be much more connected and interactive than now, as per what several guru state.


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