Fly to your home?
From erecting 3D-printed buildings to introducing artificial intelligence, smart technology and blockchain in different industries, the UAE is transforming itself by embracing various technological advances. Its latest mission involves futuristic transportation concepts, which will unlock unheard-of possibilities in the construction and design spaces. In September, Dubai tested its first automated aerial taxi, built by Volocopter, a German specialty manufacturer of autonomous air vehicles. The self-flying, two-seat drone has a top speed of 100km per hour, with a maximum flight time of 30 minutes. Dubai’s road and energy authorities are also offering incentives to encourage the motorist to buy zero-carbon emission electric vehicles (EVs), as the emirate wants to bring in 42,000 EVs on its streets by 2030. Residents will enjoy benefits such as free public charging, free parking, free EV registration, free Salik tags and a licence plate sticker identifying the vehicle as an electric car.
Innovative car parks
An Imkan project that is a step in this direction, Makers District, a mixed-use development on Reem Island, is currently at the ideation stage. It will include facilities for electric vehicles and will accommodate new transportation technologies such as flying autonomous cars.
High energy prices, climate change and government regulation are already pushing sustainability high on the real estate agenda, says Vijay Doshi, founder and managing director of Vincitore Real Estate Developments. He anticipates that over the next few years, the impact on real estate will be far more significant, with technology and sustainability becoming the two key drivers of value.
The city of the future will become more connected and permeable than ever, points out Michael Fowler, managing director of Aedas Middle East. “Growing up sharing their lives in real time through social media, the next generation will live in cities that place more emphasis on community spaces than individual castles,” says Fowler. “In a world enriched by virtual and augmented reality, buildings will become background, not content. In turn, residential units will be smaller, but far more intelligent. Up to now, a smartphone has more technology than a typical dwelling unit, but this will change as the Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence transform our homes into true machines for living.”
Although drone transport will inevitably be implemented, it remains to be seen whether a drone landing pad will become a vital feature in every development the same way automobile parking has now become a necessity.
“Drones may be a solution to traffic congestion only when they are few,” says Fowler. “If any significant share of current vehicular circulation were taken up by drones, congestion in the air would become an issue, despite the expected benefit of automated central control. Simply moving individual transport into the sky is not really an ideal solution.”
Also, as the electric vehicles proliferate, they will help reduce pollution and increase energy efficiency, but this will not change the fundamental challenges of urban traffic. “The self-driving potential of both drones and automobiles will yield greater efficiencies in transport,” says Fowler. “By allowing a degree of coordination and cooperation not typical for human drivers, automated vehicles will be safer and more efficient. However, the paradigm of the private car and driver has to change.”
While there is a lot of talk about the construction industry’s readiness to change, Fowlers says the capital-intensive building industry remains traditionally slow to change. “The building codes and planning regulations need more flexibility to welcome new technologies,” he says. “Contractual arrangements need to become more collaborative rather than adversarial. The whole delivery process for built space must become industrial, with buildings viewed more like a high-quality premium product than a bespoke masterpiece of the developer, designer or builder.”
As developers adapt and transform their developments to satisfy the needs of the people that live in them, the government is also taking a proactive role in keeping stakeholders on board with its policies. “We have seen in the UAE changes in the fire code following fire-related incidents, which have exposed deficiencies in some materials and building techniques,” says Nathan Hones, partner at Carter Associates. “In no other country in the world do the authorities and municipal departments respond so quickly to address improvements in code and regulation, especially as it relates to occupant safety.”
Ready for the future
Developers that are not taking into consideration emerging transportation concepts in their projects may not be able to attract buyers in the future, says Muhammad Obaid, founder of Emkaan, an architectural and engineering consultancy.