5 Ways autonomous systems are empowering smart cities

Autonomous systems are rapidly changing how people do everyday tasks and enjoy their lives. Cities are becoming smarter and more innovative as a result. Here are some fascinating examples.

1. Improved Waste Management

We all produce waste, but most people prefer getting rid of their trash and never seeing evidence of it again. They don’t like overflowing bins or even the noisy, smelly trucks moving through cities to collect the garbage. 

Evidence suggests that intelligent technology could help solve the world’s waste crisis while avoiding all the inconvenient things surrounding garbage. In South Korea’s smart city of Songdo, there is a truck-free system where automated bins sync with pneumatic pipes that suck the waste out and take it underground. People in Melbourne, Australia, use solar-powered trash compactor bins. Sensors detect a container’s fullness level and automatically collapse the trash as needed. 

2. Safer Roads

As we get closer to a future of roads filled with autonomous cars, people are becoming more concerned about keeping road safety at the forefront. Statistics show that 33 U.S. states enacted relevant legislation as of 2018. Most of those laws relate to companies testing their vehicles on public roads. However, making roads safer goes beyond driverless cars.

Researchers devised an artificial-intelligence powered system to count cars and detect objects automatically. It achieved a 95% accuracy rate while examining a 10-minute clip. The team believes the setup could help them become more aware of traffic anomalies, such as how often a car drives the wrong way on a street where traffic moves in a single direction. They could also see how many times pedestrians and automobiles got too close and nearly collided. 

3. Affordable, Appealing Homes

People often say it’s difficult to build houses quickly enough to cater to the communities that need them. Then, an existing problem worsens even as officials try to address it.

Technology could help by streamlining everything from the building process onward. Companies can use autonomous software for construction, which establishes and checks site control. Using autonomous software in the building phases reduces preventable problems. 

A United Kingdom-based startup also uses software, via an app. The company specializes in smart home communities that fit residents’ budgets and give them a high quality of living. Residents launch a dedicated app to interact with their neighbors and aspects of the housing complex. Dwellers also get breakdowns of their resource usage to make money-saving adjustments each month if required. 

4. Hassle-Free Parking

Once people get to their destinations, their stress levels may rise as they struggle to find free parking spaces. They could easily waste precious time searching for places to park. One study revealed that shared autonomous vehicles could remove up to 90% of the cars from our roads. That sounds promising for fixing parking issues and other problems, but some people want a more readily available solution, like one currently approved for use.

An autonomous valet parking garage in Germany gives a possible glimpse into the future. People use a smartphone app to direct their driverless cars to steer into available parking spots after they get out of the vehicles. The owners can then summon the automobiles back when they finish their meetings, shopping excursions or other obligations.

The team behind the innovation noted it is the first automated system of this level approved for everyday use. 

5. Enhanced Public Safety

Keeping the roads safe is but one facet of a smart city that supports the well-being of everyone who visits or lives there. Some autonomous systems aid law enforcement officers and first responders by screening well-populated areas for signs of danger and alerting authorities about trouble. For example, some options detect gunshots or can tell if public gatherings get too crowded. 

One company that recently won a London smart city tech contest created a product that monitors the positioning and usage of the life belts placed along the River Thames. If someone removes a life belt from its container for more than eight seconds, authorities automatically get alerts to investigate.

Another aspect of the technology recognizes when people jump into the river. It can differentiate between people and other descending objects, such as birds. 

Autonomous Systems Give Attractive Solutions

These examples show that the smart cities we’ll see soon — or perhaps live in now — will be full of automated options that help people live safer, more fulfilling and highly convenient lives. As technology continues to improve, people can expect more advancements that they have not yet even considered or thought possible.

Written by Shannon Flynn, editor at ReHack.

Header image: Love Silhouette.

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