What will cities like Seoul, New York and Mexico City look like in the next 30 years? No one quite knows yet, but by 2050 it's predicted that most of the world's population will live in large urban environments, which present many challenges for city planners. In the not too distant future, new technologies like autonomous cars and piloted parking will forever change the way we get around, and according to Audi, these same systems will also change the form of the city. Which is why the automaker created the Audi Urban Future Initiative -- to prepare for a future that is bound to look radically different than the present.
The Audi Urban Future Initiative, a global platform for dialog between the city and the automobile, is meant to discover innovative ideas for tomorrow’s mobility. Today cities are plagued with traffic jams and limited parking, which is why the award was created to discover ways to improve mobility in major cities that will enhance the quality of life for its inhabitants.
This year marked the third time that Audi has worked with teams from all over the world to discover ideas for mobility solutions for the future city. Under the motto “Car finds City,” teams from Berlin, Boston, Mexico City and Seoul presented their ideas in Berlin and Audi invited Inhabitat to the ceremony.
“The car has to be seen once again as a desirable object of progress,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler stated at the presentation of the Audi Urban Future Award in Berlin. “To achieve this, we have to tear down the walls between infrastructure, public transportation and individual traffic.”
The car can close the gap in the mobility system – Team Berlin
Although cities like San Francisco continue to move forward with an overall design that seems to ignore the car, Audi feels that in general the car and city are moving towards one another. The four teams also painted a future in which the car still exists and instead of being a drain on viable resources, the car actually contributes to a better way of life. For example the team from Berlin presented an idea in which cars could close the gap in Berlin’s mobility system. Autonomous cars that use the city’s existing unused subway tracks could easily transport you to your doorstep.
“Our work in the Audi Urban Future Award with cities and teams is open-minded. As far as tomorrow’s mobility is concerned, regular exchange of ideas with external experts opens up new perspectives and helps us to understand better the needs of people in cities,” stated Annegret Maier, head of Data Intelligence at Audi.
The car can become the ultimate mobile device – Team Seoul
Even though Berlin’s team presented a solution that relied future technology, the team from Seoul presented a new idea that would make today’s car share vehicles more desirable. Car-sharing is very popular in cities like San Francisco, but in Seoul it’s not doing as well. The Seoul team presented a concept in which the passenger cabin and car’s powertrain are separated, that way the driver keeps his or her own personal space – something that is more desirable in Seoul.
Manage the mobility revolution – Team Boston
The Boston team presented its idea around the theory that there no longer be any boundaries between mobility and immobility. The team feels that both the car and city will benefit from new technologies like self-parking vehicles. Today cities have to devote a large amount of space to parking spaces and garages, but innovations like piloted parking and autonomous vehicles will help reduce the number of necessary parking garages, which will create more “livable” space.
An operating system for the city – Team Mexico City
The next time you’re commuting into your office take a look around at the other cars sharing the road with you. There’s a good chance that many of the vehicles are only carrying one driver. This is a major problem in Mexico City where 22 million people have to deal with massive traffic jams. Mobility is not pleasurable especially in Santa Fe where it takes some people three hours to get to their destination. The team from Mexico City feels that sustainability and progress are not a contradiction. The team believes that by using data about traffic from and mobility patterns based on crowd-sourcing techniques, the people living in Mexico City will have a higher quality of life with less noise, cleaner air and more living space.
Who won this year’s award?
The award, which is worth 100,000 euros, went to the team from Mexico City. According to Audi, the nine judges were impressed with the team’s “operating system for urban mobility.” The team’s idea of a data platform with which cities can design their transportation planning according to the patterns of its drivers behavior gave the team the win. Internationally renowned architect and urban planner Jose Castillo and his Mexican team are convinced that the automobile can solve precisely the problems that it caused itself – by, for example, providing data with which cities can manage their traffic planning better.
“The teams’ ideas were as diverse as the cities that they come from. There were exciting approaches in all the proposals,” director of the Center for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University, Prof. John Urry stated in Berlin. “Ultimately we decided in favor of Mexico City because the project is already being implemented, and it provides concrete and above all affordable solutions for the urgent mobility problems in the mega-cities of threshold countries.”
The insights gained from the third Audi Urban Future Award will flow directly into Audi’s new “Urban Agenda.” In order to implement sustainable mobility solutions, Audi is pressing ahead by forming development partnerships with cities.