A new American city is set to take form in the New Mexico desert, and at first glance, nothing really seems to be amiss. Tentatively called CITE, the city measures roughly 15 square miles in size and could support a population of around 35,000. Littered throughout the city will be single-family homes, multi-story office buildings in an office district, agricultural land, residential streets and even a highway along its outskirts.
However, no one will live in this city — it is simply being used a test bed for future technology innovations that run the gamut from autonomous vehicle testing to home automation to alternative energy sources to alternative methods for constructing disaster-resistant homes to next generation waste treatment facilities. And with no “residents” to bother, companies will be free to go crazy with their experiments. The $1 billion venture is the brainchild of Pegasus Global Holdings, which describes itself as an “international technology development firm” with the “ability to source globally ‘market-ready’ IP from public and private innovators, enablers, and incubators.”
CITE will likely be a boon to automakers that are rapidly advancing self-driving technology to bring to the masses within the next decade. While Google doesn’t have a problem testing its autonomous vehicles in plain view on public roads, some companies (a la Apple) would rather test their vehicles in more controlled locations. Apple is reportedly looking to test its upcoming electric car at GoMentum Station — an abandoned naval base in San Francisco — but CITE would provide yet another option that would more closely mirror the urban and suburban environments that vehicles encounter on a daily basis.
"The vision is an environment where new products, services and technologies can be demonstrated and tested without disrupting everyday life," said Pegasus Managing Director Robert Brumley. "You can bring new things to have them stressed, break them, and find out the laws of unintended consequences. This should become like a magnet where people with ideas and technologies come, and not just test but interact."
The goal with CITE is to give government agencies, educational institutions, and private sector companies the ability to test out that last 1/10 of a product before it reaches production. It’s all fine and dandy to have a product that works in a controlled environment, but it’s not until it reaches the hands of consumers that some companies find that they may have overlooked a design flaw ("Don't hold it that way") or didn’t account for certain variables. CITE will allow companies to bridge that gap between the laboratory and the consumer.
"The US spends billions of dollars on research and gets 2-3% return in commercial products," added Brumley. "This facility could extend and increase the return."
CITE is an interesting concept and we can’t wait to see what kind of clientele the “city” attracts when it is scheduled to open in 2018.