When we think of cities of the future, visions of flying cars and robots often come to mind. But while these technologies may seem distant, they’re actually not that far off.
The “future” is now, and thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), cities around the world are already making remarkable strides with innovations most of us could never have dreamed of even a decade ago.
From transportation to public safety, artificial intelligence is already changing urban life, and experts say that over the next decade, its impact on cities will be profound.
According to the latest report from Stanford University’s One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence, experts predict that “increasingly useful applications of AI, with potentially profound positive impacts on our society and economy are likely to emerge between now and 2030.”
Here are some ways AI is already changing cities, with a look at where the technology is headed over the next few decades.
Sharing the Road with Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles are one of the most-talked about applications of AI technology, and cities like Pittsburgh, Penn., are embracing a future with driverless cars, and the smart infrastructure that comes with them. Pittsburgh’s policy planners and designers are already taking steps to prepare for the impact these vehicles will have on current traffic routes and patterns, as well as the effects they’ll have on businesses and city centers.
Technology startup NuTonomy made headlines in 2016 when it deployed the world’s first driverless taxi in Singapore. Now, through a new partnership with Lyft, a San Francisco, Calif.-based ride-hailing service, the company has set its sights on the U.S. Lyft’s CEO Logan Green has stated that ride-sharing will continue to flourish in the coming decades, facilitated by the use of autonomous driving technology. And as these vehicles become safer, more reliable and more commonplace, more and more cities will have to work to integrate them into their current traffic and infrastructure systems, resulting in safer roads and more efficient travel.
AI Systems for Truly Speedy Delivery
AI is also dramatically changing the way delivery systems within cities function, and developers are continuing to improve the technology’s effectiveness and usefulness. Some companies have already started using AI to plan and design delivery routes, while others are taking things a step further, using AI technology to fully execute their deliveries.
Residents in Redwood City, Calif., for instance, are taking part in pilot delivery programs headed by Starship Technologies. The company uses AI-powered data analytics to determine which streets are safe to operate on and which routes are fastest. Fleets of robots then deliver the packages to their destinations. Eventually, this kind of delivery technology is expected to take to the skies via drones.
In the near future, cities might also begin to utilize this technology to gather valuable car and foot traffic data that can be used to develop better routes for everything from mail deliveries to ambulance rides.
AI Fulfilling Its Civic Duty
In cities around the world, security systems are being developed that use AI programs to target threats and other suspicious activity. The technology is also being integrated into infrastructure and city management processes to increase the efficiency of certain governments programs.
Redwood City, Calif., also recently implemented a parking system that uses sensors placed in parking garages to detect the presence of parked cars, as well as the duration of their stay. With this data, the system can detect trends and let people know when and where spaces are available, as well as which times of the day are best to park. Further applications of this technology might lead to precise parking information that can help drivers plan better trips.
And AI technology has even further-reaching implementations, which include the potential to change how the criminal justice system operates. In London, a programmer developed an AI lawyer to help people appeal parking tickets. Featuring a user friendly interface, the bot has had a 64 percent success rate.