Monday, June 27, 2011

Rebirth in Masdar City?

Architectural rendering of Masdar City now under construction

Sometimes it seems like we have more problems than we deserve and more solutions than we apply. Whether Arab Spring, Sputnik moments, tea parties…whatever. Whether silly or sensible, we long for rebirth.

Take transportation. Crime loves transportation. It festers at bus stations and clusters near subway or rail stops. Parking lots make easy pickings for crooks. Poor design makes all this worse.

What might rebirth look like if we could rebuild from the ground up? Maybe with privacy, cool design, and the environment in mind?

Turns out the future is already here.

Masdar City is a city in a city - in this case in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It's the world's first zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewables. Construction - now on hold for the recession - is already well under way.

Masdar transport planning is remarkable, one part of which is a fleet of driverless, free-moving podcars called PRTs.

A Huffington Post article says Nevada is changing laws to allow driverless cars. PRTs are already in operation at London's Heathrow Airport.

Masdar's system (built by Europeans) is planning for 3000 electric PRTs each transporting 2 to 6 passengers in privacy and safety. Wi-Fi computers maneuver them on dedicated routes, so no traffic congestion. The engineers say PRTs will get you there faster than cars.

Rebirth indeed! What, I wonder, does this mean for personal security and crime?

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