Future Cities Digest #1 (22.11.2013)

by Lukasz Alwast

#autonomous # vehicles  #driverless-car  #Google

This week opened with a large article in the New Yorker showcasing the story behind Google’s driverless car. The article is an extensive, well researched and well suited for reference purposes piece of writing. My attention was particularly drawn to the major role Darpa Grand Challenge(s) played in creating incentives for innovation, the way the innovation-team at Google was created (purposefully avoiding ‘industry-people’ in favour of AI folks) and the concerns car-manufacturers expressed towards: (i) reliability of the systems, (ii) loosing the ‘driving experience’[which might go against theidentity of their core-business] and (iii) general impression on ‘market-readiness’.  Definitely worth the read if interested.

#UAVs #drones #networks #Matternet

One of the recently published and widely commented TED Talks comes from Andreas Raptopolous, founder of Matternet, a (future) network of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at transporting medicine and goods to places with poor road infrastructure. Raptopolous presents in his talk an idea for the applications of autonomous octocopters to carry up to 2kg packages within 10km distance networks of docking bases. The talk has at times a quite ‘grandiose’ narration, but clearly illustrates the founders vision and draws nicely on good visuals. Some of the proposed applications are also suggested for highly dense, urban areas. The project is indirectly supported by the teams from Singularity University and Google[x].

#urban #futures #London2062 #UCL

On Monday, the team behind the UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities launched an edited collection of writings about the forces and factors that will shape London in the fore coming 5 decades – ‘Imaging the Future City: London 2062’. The publication is an outcome of the UCL London 2062 project which ran between 2010 and 2012. The piece is divided into four sub-sections: Things, Connections, Power and Dreams and consist of nearly 30 essays contributed by UCL academics and affiliated partners. The publication can be downloaded here (+ is already available in the Futures repository).

#research #funding #universities #programmes

Based on data from this years research councils grant allocations, UCL,followed by Cambridge and Imperial, are the institution which attracted the most research income. According to UCL officials, the institution received “boost” thanks to the emphasis on building consortia around global challenges, such as: infectious diseases, energy demand and dementia. At the same time, one research council nearly doubled the value of the awards it made in 2012-2013 (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which might suggest that many new research programmes will be launching in the incoming months (eg Oxford will lead 6 new Centres for Doctoral Training).

Recent reports out there:

  • Roadmap for Financial Inclusion (Global Financial Development Report 2014) – Nov 2013, World Bank [highlights: global  ‘state-of-affairs on financial inclusion, call for stronger addressing of market failures, assessment of mobile payments & identification tech.]
  • Environmental Indicator Report 2013 – Nov 2013, European Environmental Agency [highlights: analysis of global demand and supply mechanism in food, water, energy and housing; review of opportunities for responding to main challenges]

New book releases on Amazon [Urban Development]: