Technology

Exploring the smart cities of the future

Today, smart cities, where information and communication technology integrate with everyday life to make it safer, simpler and more convenient are set to transform big city driving. Where does your Volvo fit into this brave new world?

 

One sensor at a time

By the year 2050, experts predict almost 70% of the world’s population will inhabit urban areas. To cope with the demands of such large-scale urbanisation, our cities will not only have to become bigger – they will have to become smarter. Effective, long-term solutions to the challenges of tomorrow, such as traffic congestion and air pollution, have to be found today. While discovering new ways of making the best use of energy and the space around us is more important than ever.
 

Work on tackling tomorrow’s problems using technology has already begun – one sensor and one piece of software at a time. Smart streetlights now allow local authorities to monitor and control streetlights remotely. This is not only an effective energy saver, as it means lights can be dimmed at certain times, it also enables engineers to locate and repair faults quickly and efficiently. Before long, there will be a sensor in place designed to deal with almost every situation. Whether it’s locating and dealing with large-scale problems, such as monitoring water leaks and then shutting off pipes automatically, or simply letting local authorities know when a rubbish bin needs to be emptied. It’s only a matter of time before a smart solution is in place.

“Today, the best way of getting the most out of our cars is by connecting with our surroundings and collaborating with the people around us.”

 

Sharing roads, sharing information

Where do our cars fit into this intelligent new environment? In the past cities were either designed around our cars, or our cars were designed around our cities. Today, however, as the age of the smart city approaches, the best way of getting the most out of our cars is by connecting with our surroundings and collaborating with the people around us. Volvo Cars is currently working on a wide range of innovative solutions based on connectivity, autonomous driving technology and electrification, with the aim of increasing traffic flow, reducing air pollution and improving the general quality of life in the smart cities of the future.
 

Currently in development are numerous connected car services, which could use available in-car data and the Volvo Cloud. These services are uniquely designed to work together with smart city technology and can be used to improve traffic flow management by optimising traffic lights and speed limits, as well as offering rerouting suggestions based on real-time traffic updates. Other important information could also be shared, such as real-time warnings regarding hazardous weather, dangerous road conditions or reckless driving by other road users. Connected cars could even detect and notify other drivers about slippery sections of road before sharing the information with connected street lighting, which would then illuminate the dangerous sections of road using a different colour to warn other drivers of potential danger ahead.

 

 

What does the future hold?

It’s not only connected cars that have the potential to transform urban driving in the future, selfdriving cars also have a key role to play. Volvo Cars is currently collaborating with the City of Gothenburg on a new project designed to explore the ways in which self-driving cars can help make our cities better places to live. According to the project, “Self-parking vehicles – parking as an availability issue in sustainable urban development”, self-driving cars will be able to drop you off at your destination before heading off to park themselves in a specially designated area. This will remove the need for car parks next to every office, business or retail area, allowing the space to be developed in a new way that benefits everyone. Not only do self-driving cars require less space, they reduce the level of pollution in busy city centre areas and contribute to improved road safety without the need for major changes to a city’s infrastructure.

The opportunities provided by electrification will also help improve urban driving in the future. Electric cars, which offer high performance, reduced emissions and reduced noise are ideal for smart city driving.

 

 

A shift towards fully electric cars is already underway, and the demand will only increase when a globally standardised charging system with regular and fast charging capabilities is finally put in place. Volvo Cars has been working on highly electrified vehicles since the 1970s and plans to release the first fully electric Volvo car in 2019.
 

Smart mobility, smart technology, smart building and smart citizens. These are just a few of the criteria a city must have in place before it is officially considered to be a ‘smart city’. Looking at the list, however, we could quite easily be describing the latest range of Volvo cars. One thing you can be sure of: as technology gets more advanced, and the world’s cities get smarter, our cars are more than capable of keeping up. In fact, sometimes we have to wait for the world to catch up with us.

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Smart city solutions

In order for you to get around in the smart cities of the future, you will have to be able to connect and interact more completely with your Volvo and its surroundings. These are just some of our latest innovations, designed to help increase your enjoyment of your Volvo in the future.

 

When the driver wishes to delegate driving to the car the steering wheel retracts, the seat reclines and a large display emerges from the dashboard allowing the driver to enjoy the time spent in the car as they like, whether it’s watching online media, listening to music or simply relaxing.

 

Now, you can talk to your Volvo through your wrist watch, telling it to switch on the heater in advance, lock your car doors or conveniently program your on-board navigation system from the comfort of home, so you’re ready to set off as soon as you set foot inside your car.

 

In the future, HoloLens will allow you to use mixed reality to choose the type of Volvo you want – to explore the colours, rims, or get a better understanding of the features, services and options available.