Developed countries have built the required
infrastructure in most of the various sectors, including ports,
railways, energy and sanitation. There is a sector that has
been consistently growing in recent years, one which is in
constant evolution and which continues to advance in leaps and
bounds: the technology sector.
We have witnessed the proliferation of technology in the
transportation sector, with new projects like the hyperloop
– a fast, vacuum-filled, tube-based, transportation
system that theoretically zips passengers from Los Angeles to
San Francisco in 35 minutes; or, an underground high-speed
transit network through which magnetic sleds shuttling cars
travel at speeds of 200 km per hour.
The Dubai-based 'flying taxis' (also called passenger
drones), China's straddling bus that can circulate above the
cars on the roads, and various other kinds of autonomous
vehicles, are further examples of this revolution.
There are five levels of autonomy classification as regards
these autonomous vehicles, depending on the degree of human
control involved. This classification serves as a general
guideline for how technologically advanced a vehicle is. Level
5 is a fully autonomous system that expects a vehicle's
performance to equal that of a human driver.
Only a few years ago, autonomous or unmanned vehicles in the
air, on land and at sea were considered science fiction.
However, at the last Geneva Motor Show, stand-alone level 5
cars were on show, and these vehicles are expected to be in
circulation in the very near future.
The inevitable question to be posed is whether the various
countries' infrastructures are prepared for this type of
technology revolution that will shape cities in the future.
The EU has funded different programmes like the V-Charge
Consortium (about €5.6 million, equivalent to $6.3
million) which is developing a fully automated parking and
charging system for electric cars in public car parks; and, the
European CityMobil2 which will implement fully automated road
The high cost of infrastructure projects requires
sustainable funding to be undertaken.
Traditionally, infrastructure projects have been financed
through project finance, project bonds or even a combination of
both. Nevertheless, the tycoons and entrepreneurs behind this
tech revolution are bringing all sorts of innovations to the
industry, including the development of new and unusual ways of
financing. In this regard, a well-known solar company has tried
to pursue individual investors through its website offering
'solar bonds'. However, at this stage, it seems difficult to
believe that these innovative types of financing could actually
replace the traditional financing systems.
Looking to the future, it is crystal clear that tech
projects with a direct impact on the infrastructure network
will be conducted. Those projects will entail not only a total
re-shaping of the infrastructure of major cities, but also
numerous legislative amendments. Overall, this will lead to a
peak in a new kind of project finance – one which we
dare to call 'tech project finance'.
||Manuel Follía and Levón