We all want self-driving cars, smart traffic systems, and more awesomely automated things of all kinds. Of course, before we can really use or implement any of these things, we have to test them. A lot. The more useful and awesome automation is going to be, the more dangerous it might be if it goes wrong. Google has already had some issues finding a way to legally test their self-driving cars. Fortunately, there will soon be a place for all that. The city of Hobbs in New Mexico is going to be the site of a billion dollar ghost town, where automation can run its course without risking the lives of any citizens.
A company called Pegasus Holdings has been looking around for an area to build this unprecedented test lab for a while, and has finally settled on the city of Hobbs in Lea County of New Mexico. While the city itself, complete with traffic automation prototypes and even self-flushing toilets, will have no inhabitants, the project is expected to revitalize the surrounding area on the whole, an area which has been suffering since the 80s. The ghost town, called The Centre for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation or CITE, is to be 15 square miles and start out costing around $400 million. The $600 million needed to bring that number up to one billion will be spent rolling out the sophisticated automation systems after the initial investment.
When you’re sparing no expense, you might as well spare no expense. That being the case, Hobbs is going to be a fully functioning ghost down with all the amenities: roads, water, electricity, computers, telecommunications gear, and even experimental post Wi-Fi wireless networks. And while it seems a shame that no one will be around to live in this city of the future, it’s worth remembering that it’s not the city of the future quite yet. It’s certain that the city’s operations will be littered with bugs (the technical kind) that would make actually living there less of a dream and more of a complete nightmare. You won’t get the chance to see it yourself, you can imagine how incredible the whole operation might be. Here’s to hoping some of the perfected tech will make its way to us soon, in a reliable, safe form.
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