10 Cities living in the Future

31.08.2017 | 11:38

If you know where to look, you can travel to the future today.

In the past, companies hid what they were working on in labs behind locked doors. But newer technologies such as self-driving cars and drone deliveries must be tested and perfected in the real world before being introduced into our lives.

Cities around the world are playing host to some of the smartest innovation around, providing a glance at what could become a part of modern-day culture in the years to come.


Here are 10 cities are already living in the future:


A city once known for the steel industry has become a hotbed of self-driving car research. Uber, Ford and Aurora have local offices, and other self-driving companies are considering a move to the city, according to the local government

Pittsburgh's varied terrain and four seasons make it a smart testing ground for self-driving vehicles. The city, known for its three rivers, has hundreds of bridges, which can be especially challenging for autonomous vehicles. Uber already offers self-driving rides to customers across the city.

Pittsburgh is home to Carnegie Mellon University, where its pioneering work on autonomous vehicles has occurred for decades. It's also a long-term leader in engineering and robotics. Red Whittaker, a professor at the university's Robotics Institute, is often called the godfather of autonomous vehicles. His earliest projects include building autonomous robots to clean up the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.



Reykjavik, Iceland is home to a new fully automated drone delivery program -- in fact, it's one of the only places on the planet where a person can receive delivery via a drone.

The Israeli company FlyTrex has partnered with online marketplace Aha to fly a drone from its headquarters to a landing zone in a field two miles away. An employee from Aha then receives the package and completes the delivery.

In the future, FlyTrex drones plan to drop packages directly into backyards.

Drone usage is growing in other regions, too. Rwanda in East Africa currently uses drones to deliver medical supplies and its neighbor Tanzania plans to launch a program in early 2018. Meanwhile, Amazon has already made a delivery in Cambridge, and Google recently transported Chipotle burritos to Virginia Tech students by drones.



Russia's capital has a network of 146,000 cameras to watch city streets and ensure that residents, visitors and businesses are behaving.

The cameras are used to verify that trash has been picked up, crackdown on speeding and red-light running, monitor snow removal and be certain that on-street advertising is legal.

The government is currently upgrading the cameras intelligence to better analyze footage. For example, the cameras could one day identify when a person doesn't clean up after their pet. If a dog leaves droppings, an owner may potentially receive a ticket in the mail.

While every city may not follow Moscow's lead, the city is showing what technology makes possible.



Chicago is ahead of the curve in its effort to use sensors to track traffic conditions. Chicago's Array of Things project posts sensors above many of the city's intersections to track air quality and traffic conditions on a block-by-block level.

The project is an early example of how cities will leverage data to better serve citizens.

Meanwhile, on Interstate 75 outside Detroit, Michigan's state government is testing smart signs and road sensors that communicate with autonomous vehicles. In Central Ohio, the government is investing $15 million to bring similar smart technology to roads.


San Francisco

Silicon Valley is ground zero for the digital revolution. That makes San Francisco the best example of the saying, "The future is already here; it's just not evenly distributed."

Walk around the city and you'll likely cross paths with electric cars and wheeled robots making deliveries on sidewalks. You also may see self-driving car startups such as GM's Cruise testing vehicles across the city.

The area wasn't always a technology hotbed. U.S. Defense Department spending helped the Bay Area emerge as a technology hub in the 20th century. Hewlett-Packard, for example, was a defense contractor during World War II.

Now, San Francisco is perhaps the most obvious destination for a budding entrepreneur.



Singapore is one of the few places where residents can already order self-driving taxi rides -- albeit with a test driver behind the wheel to guarantee safety.

The city-state's openness to new technologies make it an attractive destination for companies with futuristic visions. NuTonomy, a self-driving car company from Boston, first started giving rides in August 2016. Similar to what's happening in Pittsburgh, a limited number of self-driving rides are already offered in restricted areas.

NuTonomy plans to roll out a commercial service in Singapore in 2018.


Washington, D.C

The U.S. capital is home to six-wheeled robots that roll along sidewalks to deliver food. In partnership with Starship Technologies and delivery service Postmates, robots arrive at doorsteps with ordered meals. A message is sent to the customer to come outside and retrieve their food from the robot's cargo bin.

Although the goal is for the robots to be fully autonomous, they're currently controlled by humans who monitor them nearby. This helps keep the robot out of harm's way, such as crashing into things such as pedestrians, signs or vehicles. Plus, staffers can answers questions from curious pedestrians.

The trial is still in its early stages, but there are plans for an eventual expansion.



City residents of Amazon's hometown are often first to experience what the tech giant is testing.

With AmazonFresh Pickup, people can order groceries online and later pick them up in their car. A driver doesn't have to get out of their car. Amazon said on the FAQ page on its website the program could use camera technology to identify a car's license plate so it knows when to bring out the food.

Seattle is also home to massive bikeshare growth. Three companies, Limebike, ofo and Spin have unveiled their stationless bikeshare systems across parts of the city this summer. The model is already catching on with residents. Bicycles can be parked anywhere, provided they don't block driveways or someone's ability to walk on a sidewalk.

Riders scan a bicycle's QR code with their smartphone to unlock it for a rental.



The Dubai Police Force has an unusual worker on its police force: a robot. Its face is human-like in appearance -- with two cameras for eyes. It wears a police hat on its head and has two arms. A touchscreen on its chest allows pedestrians to report crime in the area or pay for traffic tickets.

The police force hopes 25% of its officers will be Robocops by 2030. The robot doesn't carry a gun.

Other cities also use security robots, but they're not as humanlike in appearance as Dubai's robot.

Knightscope, a Silicon Valley company, sells its own security robot that resembles an oversized R2D2. The robots record video of their surroundings and have thermal imaging abilities to sense potential intruders. One of the robots accidentally fell into a pool in Washington, D.C. earlier this summer.



Norway's capital city is a leader in transportation innovation. Oslo has already eliminated nearly all street parking in the city center, and bike transportation is flourishing.

In 2018, it will turn several streets into pedestrian zones, allowing only limited use of motorized vehicles. The city said it could also introduce stricter regulations in 2019 that ban nearly all cars from its center.

Other cities, including Mexico City and Paris, have restricted vehicle use on certain days to limit pollution and traffic.




Share this article: