Robot tour guides, driverless car lanes and lunch delivery drones: Brits welcome tech innovations that could transform cities over the next 20 years

Dedicated road lanes for driverless cars, lunch delivery drones, augmented reality advertising billboards and robotic tour guides are just some of the technologies that could transform cities within the next 20 years according to a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults released ahead of London Tech Week 20171.

Technology will play a major role in transforming global cities, with the research showing that two thirds of people (67 per cent) believe that advances in driverless car technology could lead to dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles and more than a third (34 per cent) say they would be willing to make a journey in an un-manned drone taxi. Almost a quarter of people (23 per cent) expect cities to ban human drivers completely.

Consumer adoption rates for technologies that do not yet exist were mixed with the survey revealing that almost half of Britons would be willing to travel at speeds of over 600mph on a high-speed train, such as Elon’s Musk’s Hyperloop project. Over a third of respondents were also enthusiastic at taking a commercial space flight or commuting to work in a driverless car.

There was less appetite for dining at a restaurant serving a 3D printed meal or purchasing an underwater home. Four per cent of women would be willing to go on a date with a human like robot, compared to twelve per cent of men.

The survey, which was commissioned by the founders of London Tech Week and inspired by a series of predictions put forward by Imperial College London’s Tech Foresight group, reveals the technologies consumers think could change our global cities, disrupt traditional industries and drive forward the growth of London’s tech sector.

Professor David Gann CBE, Vice President (Innovation) at Imperial College London, said: “With some of the world’s best creative minds and leading universities, London is at the forefront of innovation. From transport and healthcare to fashion and financial services, technology is changing our cities, the way we work and our everyday lives. Through our Tech Foresight team, Imperial Business Partners is bringing together world-leading business experts, academics and innovators to envision the impact technology will have across a variety of industries. London Tech Week will shine a spotlight on the range of innovative companies and tech talent in London, as well as demonstrating the future technologies which could shape global cities such as London.”

Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East London Tech Week ambassador added: “London is brimming with a huge range of exciting tech start-ups who are leading the way in developing some of the world’s most innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data. Centres of innovation like Here East provide a platform for entrepreneurs to allow them to develop their innovations, scale their business and collaborate with other businesses. These tech innovators are already disrupting entire sectors, but in years to come we will no longer silo technology into a separate category – it will integrate into our everyday lives and permeate all aspects of the industry.”

Further analysis of the survey findings show the British public are divided on the potential impact of robots on society and the workplace. Almost half of people (47 per cent) think that human productivity will be boosted by robotics, two fifths (39 per cent) say robots will have a positive impact on society and more than a quarter of people say they would trust a robot to do a job better than a human. However, nineteen per cent of people fear their job is at risk of being taken by a robot, although17 per cent of those surveyed said their job was so dull they would rather a robot did it.The research also shows that:

  • 77 per cent believe we will see eye tracking used to navigate mobile phone applications
  • 64 per cent believe there will be solar-powered park benches to charge electronic devices
  • 53 per cent believe that tourists will be accompanied by robotic tour guides
  • 49 per cent think smart advertising billboards will feature augmented reality
  • 47 per cent think DNA dating agencies will be commonplace
  • 42 per cent think we will see hangover free alcohol substitutes
  • 30 per cent believe high-speed pedestrian walkways will link skyscrapers
  • 14 per cent believe there will be underwater housing
  • 12 per cent believe flying cars will be commonplace

London Tech Week (12-16th June) is Europe’s largest festival of technology, and last year welcomed over 40,000 delegates at more than 300 separate events. Across the week, the festival will showcase the very latest innovations including drones, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and robotics.