The future will be urban. This is one of the clearest conclusions to emerge from the last decade and a thorough scrutiny of recent migration patterns, as well as the forecasts of organizations such as UN-Habitat which say that that in 2050, 70% of the 9,700 million people on the planet will be living in cities.
One of the key issues that all cities will have to tackle in the future is that of mobility. The capacity to ensure safe, easy transit for these millions of city dwellers, within the city and from one city to another, has become one of the cornerstones of so-called smart cities.
According to a study by the US consultancy INRIX, road and rail traffic will double, and goods transport will increase threefold. The study identified Los Angeles as the city with the highest traffic density in the world, and took it as an example of the congestion level that many of today’s cities face, calculating that each resident of the Californian city spends a total of 104 hours stuck in traffic. Moscow comes in second with 91 hours, and New York third with 89.
Spain takes 30th place in the world ranking, alongside Holland, with an average of 20 hours lost to traffic jams. Madrid is the only Spanish city to figure in the European ranking for this issue. It is in 17th place, with an average of 40 hours wasted in traffic congestion, while London beats it easily with 73 hours and Paris with 65.
A new approach
Any solution must necessarily arrive through innovative ideas to manage mobility, such as integrated multi-modal transport strategies, but also through innovation in the means of transport themselves.
In this sense, Smart City Expo World Congress, the foremost world event in relation with smart cities and smart urban solutions, will show visitors some of these options with potential to shake up urban mobility.
- Self-piloting aero taxi.
- The city of Dubai (United Arab Emirates) will unveil an autonomous aero taxi that it is developing in tandem with the German company Volocopter. The idea is to make this vehicle the heart of an urban taxi service that will enable journeys to be made in a small two-seater helicopter powered by 18 propellers attached to a circular frame. Users can request the service on their smartphone and the drone will pick the users up at the assigned location and transport them to their destination.
- Despite that fact that air travel is a relatively unexplored option for urban mobility, land transport can still offer new possibilities for inter-city travel with the Hyperloop. A brainchild of Elon Musk, it consists of a sealed tube or tube network containing near vacuum conditions and minimal friction, in which capsules can reach speeds of up to 1,200 km/h.
- There are two companies currently working to develop this means of transport; Hyperloop Transportatio Technologies and Hyperloop One. Musk has been granted permission to dig a tunnel for the Hyperloop between Washington and New York, a journey that could take just 29 minutes using this technology.
Smart Mobility World Congress
The seventh edition of Smart City Expo World Congress will host the first edition of Smart Mobility World Congress, a summit on smart transport that is the result of the merger of BcnRail, Fira de Barcelona’s fair for the railway industry, and the mobility area of Smart City itself. The Smart Mobility World Congress will bring together experts and leading companies from around the world to display the latest innovations in urban and inter-urban transport.
The presentations at the first edition of the Smart Mobility World Congress will take place at the Smart Mobility Hub, a space which will count on the presence of more than 80 transport experts such as the CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Dirk Ahlborn. It will also host the annual congress and 31st General Assembly of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Metros y Subterráneos (ALAMYS), which will bring together urban railway operators and authorities from Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and which will examine the benefits of metro and tram systems in urban environments.