Intelligent cars, or intelligent roads?

Recent advances in telecoms, IoT, cloud, and edge computing have certainly contributed to the rapid evolution of new “smart city” concepts. Last year The Royal Society of London published a rather comprehensive report focusing on Advances in smart roads for future smart cities.

It is happening now!

But this is not just about the future. Right now more than 300 smart city projects are underway in China alone, and India is investing trillions to build more than 100 smart cities. So what is it all about? The ITU-T focus group has analyzed over a hundred definitions and ultimately arrived at:


“A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICT) and other means to improve quality of life, the efficiency of urban operations, and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, and environmental aspects.”

From musical roads to energy saving

The list of smart road applications underway is impressive:

  • Charging your electrical car on the go
  • Cars that communicate with each other
  • Roads that harvest energy
  • Saving lives with music
  • Avoiding overweight
  • Detecting traffic violations
  • Smart road intersections
  • Intelligent signs and street lighting
  • … and more

Some of these concepts, like wireless traffic signs, have already been implemented in some form. Others are still at the experimental stage.


“Musical roads” may sound like a fantasy but have, according to the Royal Society, already been tested in a number of countries, including Japan, the USA, Denmark, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and South Korea. The idea is based on grooves or rumble strips spaced at certain intervals, generating a series of higher or lower notes. Not for entertainment but to make drivers keep the desired speed. Nice for the drivers but maybe not for the people living close to the road.

Read more about the various development projects here.



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