Visions for Singapore: Cars that auto-park, roads that supply power

BuildSG2065 contest entries include visions of an eco-friendly Singapore

Come rain or shine, Singapore's roads will serve an extra purpose in the year 2065 by absorbing rainwater to prevent floods or by generating solar power for the nation.

At exercise corners, fitness equipment will harness kinetic energy from people's workouts and turn it into electricity to charge electronic devices or supply power to the national grid.

To help Singapore adapt to its growing ageing population, cars will have become self-driving and be able to communicate with buildings to ensure safe and efficient travel and effortless parking.

These were among the visions submitted by Singaporeans to BuildSG2065 - a contest being held by The Straits Times and CapitaLand, one of Asia's largest real estate companies, to mark the country's 50th anniversary.

It requires Singaporeans to submit their visions for the Republic in another 50 years' time. They could win prizes.

The entries could also be displayed in an exhibition featuring the past, present and future of Singapore, using the pages of The Straits Times, which will commemorate its own 170th anniversary this year. Submissions can be made in four categories: go green, space-age kampungs, smart spaces and weatherproof world.

Mr Ernest Lin, 25, who submitted an entry in the first category, sees a greater role for Singapore's roads, which makes up about 12 per cent of land use.

"In 2065, solar-power roads will be a reality in Singapore. Roads and expressways will act as a power generator to supply sustainable energy to charge cars, power homes, industries and so forth," he said.

Mr Ryan Wong, 36, said new, porous roads could help Singapore during heavy rain. "The roads will be able to absorb water, with technology keeping the surface dry and not allowing any water to accumulate on it," he said.

He added that rainwater collected in the roads' sub-layers could be used in eco-friendly precincts. "This can also help Singapore to become a more 'weather-proof' nation," he said.

Others suggested ways for Singapore to become more energy self-sufficient.

Exercise corners at HDB blocks could have fitness equipment hooked up to charging boxes.

"These could convert kinetic exercising motions into energy to charge your phones and smart devices. You'd get free electricity while keeping fit and staying healthy," said Mr F. H. Lee, 52.

Student Angeline Aw, 15, said people will also be able to create energy through their clothes and shoes. She said: "Our clothes and shoe soles can be embedded with piezoelectric materials that produce electrical energy when mechanical stress is applied to them.

"Since we are constantly moving, our movements would apply pressure onto the material, generating electricity."

Mr Benjamin Lim, 47, believes Singapore will be an island of self-driving cars by 2065.

"These will even know how to auto-park at the destination. We won't need to bother finding parking spaces because the smart buildings will communicate with the smart cars, and direct the cars to the right spots," he said.

The advances in technology will also bring Singaporeans closer, said 50-year-old Marilyn Yap. "Singaporeans in the same neighbourhood will be able to connect with one another using their smartphones," she said.

"The young and working adults can form long-lasting relations with their retiree neighbours and engage one another in sharing a new recipe, going for a walk or sharing a hobby."

zengkun@sph.com.sg

To submit your idea, go online to http://buildsg2065.straitstimes.com/ from now until April 30.