China’s cities of tomorrow feature some pretty jaw-dropping technologies

Image: pixabay

China is steeped in centuries of rich history and culture. But in the modern era, it is also a nation with eyes to the future.  

Today’s Chinese towns have been forging a path for the world’s urban hubs of the future. This momentum is driven in part by predictions that more than 75% of China’s population (along with a total of more than a billion people) will live in the nation’s urban areas throughout the year 2050.

“The international city of the future will be a smart, interconnected environment where all the new transformative technology, such as large data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy are combined,” states Mark Haefele, Global Chief Investment Officer of UBS Wealth Management. “And China is ready to embrace the tech revolution”

Below are a couple Chinese startups, theories, and technologies that are defining exactly what a global city of tomorrow may seem like.


Cutting-edge “manned drone” technology with the potential to revolutionize ride-sharing.

City-dwellers who have dreamed of flying cars just may find the next best thing with all the Ehang 184, a quadcopter drone capable of reaching heights of around 11,500 feet and carrying an individual passenger. The fully electric vehicle contains one little cabin that could accommodate an individual of around 220 lbs, and it may fly 40 miles on just one charge.  

The 184 is a self-flying system, along with the passenger does not need to do anything to control the flight route. The drones are equipped to handle normal weather and wind patterns — but they will also be tracked by an on-the-ground control center that offers oversight for unforeseen obstacles.

The 184, that was still just a concept a couple of years back, is now a real, functioning product that has completed hundreds of successful test flights.  

China is paving the way for all these drones to become an integrated part of city life: Ehang has already received consent for its radical drones to take to the heavens from the Chinese authorities. Ehang hopes that whole fleets of those drones will one day act as a contemporary ride-sharing service with performance similar to that of Uber.


High-speed transport that will connect cities quicker and better.

For travellers who prefer to remain closer to the ground, advanced high-speed rails are allowing for quicker, more efficient travel between towns.  

China now holds the record for the quickest bullet-train technology on the planet, and CASIC (China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation) is in the process of developing a “high-speed flying train” that will be a competitor to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop.

CASIC claims that the train will be effective at reaching peak rates of 2,485 mph (4,000 kilometers per hour), which will be roughly 10 times faster than present bullet-train technology, and four times faster than commercial flights and three times the speed of sound. The technology functions via passenger pod, a near-vacuum tube, and magnetic levitation. Though there’s presently no time for how long it will take to bring this project to life, CASIC owns more than 200 patents to its technology, and plans to eventually integrate it into China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure initiative.

Paperclip Startup Campus

A Hong Kong-based startup campus encouraging entrepreneurs to knowledge-swap.

Startup culture continues to take over the business world in international cities which range from Silicon Valley to Shanghai. In Hong Kong, one company hopes to be a catalyst to get the planet’s most innovative startups: Paperclip Startup Campus encourages entrepreneurs to inspire one another through mutual, technical instruction and access to media opportunities.

Founder Deepak Madnani based his model for Paperclip about the favorite Lean Startup program, which includes teaching entrepreneurs how to “fail fast” and iterate. Madnani designed Paperclip for a platform to “empower startup achievement”

Madnani clarifies that Paperclip’s most important mission is to offer early-stage entrepreneurs the tools — best practices, networking opportunities with mentors and advisors, etc. — to develop world-changing companies. “Paperclip is Hong Kong’s first committed startup campus, that uniquely combines innovation apps with serviced offices and co-work area,” he states.  

“We wish to be a global, ubiquitous entrepreneurship platform,” he adds. “we would like to empower, educate, and provide tools to anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur, from doctors and lawyers to farmers and villagers.”

Deepak Madnani is part of the UBS Global Visionary program. Read more about his narrative here.

Sunqaoi Shanghai

A cutting-edge notion for innovative urban agriculture.

Design firm Sasaki is taking a progressive approach to one of the very practical concerns of increased urbanization: Sustainable food distribution.

Image: sasaki

In the modern agriculture industry, building “up” is the new building outside. Vertical farms have already been set up in population-dense cities like Shanghai, but the Sunqaoi Shanghai notion promises to take urban farming to a completely different level. The 250-acre agricultural district will consist of things like algae farms, vertical seed banks, greenhouses, public plazas, parks, housing, stores and restaurants. Select plants will be grown inside using hydroponics (without soil). The research-driven initiative will also include a science museum and cutting-edge “dynamic living lab.”

“As cities continue to expand, we have to continue to question the dichotomy between what is urban and what is rural,” states Sasaki. “Sunqiao seeks to prove that you could get your kale and eat it too.”

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