Panasonic’s Grand Plan for a Futuristic Smart City is Taking Shape
Virtual guardrails and self-driving buses are making this city's roads "smart."
Denver’s Smart City
It was two years ago that Denver, Colorado announced it was partnering with electronics corporation Panasonic to turn a 400-acre stretch of land near the Denver International Airport into a “smart city” — a city that incorporates technology to improve infrastructure.
The Denver smart city project is part of Panasonic’s larger CityNOW initiative that aims to transform cities around the world into ones that are economically friendly, have fully embraced technology, and are overall better places for people to live. It’s the second smart city project following the one built in Fujisawa, Japan in 2015.
While the project still several years away from completion, recent steps taken by the two parties prove that they’re determined to see it through.
Since the partnership, the future smart city has been fitted with WiFi, security cameras, environmental sensors, interactive kiosks, and a microgrid that can power the entire area for 72 hours in the event of a power outage. More recently, attention has been turned to the city’s roads.
Denver and Panasonic teamed up with the Colorado Department of Transportation in 2017 to develop a $72 million system called Road X. The program aims to reduce vehicle accidents by facilitating communications between vehicles and the city’s infrastructure. Road X could suggest optimal navigation routes based on real-time traffic patterns or implement “virtual guardrails” to notify drivers when they drift out of lanes.
This year has even more in store for Denver’s smart city. Panasonic — in collaboration with French self-driving bus developer EasyMile — will introduce an autonomous shuttle that will connect the city’s rail station to bus routes on Denver’s Tower Road.
While much progress is being made, it’ll still be some time before Denver’s smart city is completed. The one built in Japan was an eight-year endeavor, and work on Denver’s isn’t expected to finish until 2026.
While the CityNOW project has seemingly been successful so far, there’s no telling what could transpire over the next several years, such as the idea failing to expand to other states due to politics. But, if the red tape can be cut through, Denver’s smart city could stand as a shining example of how science and technology can improve daily life for all people.
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