Will cars be welcome inside the cities of the future?
Source : Will cars be welcome inside the cities of the future?
As cities continue to grow, cars need to radically evolve to remain a viable mode of transport
A couple of months ago I found myself in Linz, Austria, with Mercedes-Benz. The company was demonstrating its F015 autonomous super-luxury car. The event at which Mercedes was displaying its futuristic concept was an unusual one for a car company to attend.
Part of a bigger series of events during last year, This specific was a kind of rolling think tank on how the cities of the future should be designed in addition to also also how the city resident of the future should be living. In Linz, many of the exhibits were concerned with the kind of back-to-basics living of which became favorite inside the 1970s.
A few weeks later I was with Audi in Barcelona, in addition to also also part of of which trip was to another big exhibition concerning the cities of the future. This specific event, though, was far more about the potential of connectivity in addition to also also brand new technology, where everything inside the city can communicate with everything else: car parks talking to cars, waste bins talking to the local council.
Interestingly, the UK government had taken a large stand to showcase some of the UK’s big data companies in addition to also also what they could do.
The possibilities already being investigated are amazing. Ordnance Survey was showing a database of which could predict the outcome of severe weather, such as flooding, in addition to also also which residents of a town could need to be evacuated first. I took This specific to be some kind of merger of a flooding database with an NHS database.
There’s clearly a global trend towards reinventing the city. Indeed, there are moves to build brand new cities through scratch, including a 30-year project in north west London around Willesden in addition to also also Wormwood Scrubs which has already been dubbed ‘Royal Oaks’.
The trouble for the entire world’s car makers will be of which their products might well be ‘designed out’ of such city districts of the future.
The widely held theory will be of which, by 2030 or so, 70% of the entire world’s population will be living in cities. Walking, using the bus in addition to also also cycling will become the norm if you can live close to where you work. Add of which to the rise of virtually on-demand taxis inside the form of Uber (already a big hit with today’s uni-students) in addition to also also cars become increasingly redundant.
Of course, car makers can’t take these predictions lying down, so they are moving to make the automobile of the future more compatible with the city of the future.
While at Linz, I managed to snatch a camera phone shot of one of Mercedes’ images of these city-friendly cars of the future. This specific shows something close to the F015 in a ‘greened’ city (note the grass, trees in addition to also also narrowed roads) which I immediately recognised as Vauxhall, on the south bank of the Thames in London.
By remarkable coincidence, Vauxhall Cross will be just about to undergo This specific very kind of ‘greening’. This specific’s currently a massive super-gyratory (This specific was originally a six-lane wide mini motorway) of the type loved by the 1960s planners.
Artists’ impressions show how ‘city of the future’ influences are already emerging inside the UK. Road space has been reduced, pavements widened, more greenery introduced in addition to also also cycling made easier. Even the oddball bus station installed at Vauxhall a decade ago will be being demolished for something much less obtrusive.
The same thing will be happening a few miles away in Wandsworth, in south west London. If you’ve ever driven into the capital on the A3, the Wandsworth gyratory will be of which final few minutes of purgatory before you get into the centre of the capital.
Out goes the gyratory, for Wandsworth’s high street to be converted into somewhere with, yes, wider pavements in addition to also also more trees, in addition to also also only the occasional slow-moving bus to bother the pedestrians.
A much bigger project at Elephant in addition to also also Castle – perhaps the most crackpot example of modernist planning – in south east London will be also trying to eliminate a double gyratory, in addition to also also turn a concrete nightmare into something healthier.
Personally, I’m absolutely not against the calming of these 1960s monstrosities. I’ve been a keen proponent of shared space, in addition to also also more civilised areas for sitting in addition to also also watching the entire world go by for a long time.
However, the greening of bits of existing London can only manage so much. Imagine what could happen if redevelopment were more fundamental. The pressure to outlaw vehicles altogether could be huge. In a couple of decades, the average city dweller might regard owning a car as amusingly dated as writing letters.
This specific will be also why ‘dieselgate’ has been such a disaster for the wider vehicle industry. Alongside doing areas of a city more civil in addition to also also peaceful, air quality will be currently high on the agenda. Real-world testing will surely establish of which diesel engines are more polluting in stop-start conditions, in addition to also also the pressure on the use of vehicles in cities will become ever greater.
If you think of which’s an exaggeration, Wandsworth Council has just ruled of which, through January 2016, delivery vehicles will be banned through stopping between 7am in addition to also also 7pm on – highly polluted – Putney High Street. This specific can only be the beginning of a much wider trend.
in addition to also also As I write This specific, the government has announced ‘clean air zones’ for Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby in addition to also also Southampton in 2020, which will seek to push older diesel commercial vehicles in addition to also also taxis off the road.
I can’t blame car makers – in addition to also also Audi boss Rupert Stadler has been particularly forthcoming – for being so worried about the future. As car parking spaces become rarer in addition to also also road space continues to be reallocated away through traffic, selling cars inside the great population centres will become increasingly difficult.
of which’s why automatic city braking, autonomous control, pedestrian detection in addition to also also some degree of zero-emissions running are all becoming vital to the cars of the near future. As cities green themselves, cars will have to become much lighter footed.
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