An Empty Town Built To Test New Technology

"The Center" will be a city for 350,000, but none will live there. Instead, it will be used to see how the innovations that will power cities of the future will run in the real world.

Lego-city

Countries around the world have taken to the idea of building renewable technology towns and villages—perhaps the best known is Masdar City, a zero-emissions cleantech hub. Pegasus Global Holdings, an international technology company, is taking a slightly different tack: building a 20 square mile "replica city" in the middle of New Mexico that will test cutting edge technologies, including intelligent traffic systems, smart grids, cyber security, and next-generation wireless networks.

Pegasus is, essentially, planning to build a city of the future that scientists can use as a playground for untested ideas. But unlike every other city on the planet, no one will live in Pegasus's city, even though it will be capable of supporting 350,000 people in its rural communities, suburban areas, and urban locales. That way, it's safer when the intelligent traffic systems go off the rails.

The $200 million project, which has been dubbed "The Center," will be used by researchers from military installations, federal labs, and universities. The Center will feature a mix of old and new technology so that researchers can, for example, see how a solar system performs in an old building versus a new one.

Pegasus is remaining mum on the details for now, probably because the project is still in the tentative stages. When the company is ready, it will begin construction either in the Las Cruces area or the Albuquerque-Santa Fe region. Pegasus expects the city to be built by 2014, and the company tells us that it complete a feasibility study over the next five months that will define the design, scale, scope, and underlying business case for the project. We'll keep you informed as the project goes forward.

[Image: Flickr user avrene]

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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3 Comments

  • Valentina

    So basically this will be an uninhabited EPCOT? Walt Disney thought of it first!

    And I agree with Ben that you're seriously restricting testing by not exploring how these technologies and systems will handle people and vice versa.

  • Ben Simerly

    So how can you do all this testing, without people to put these ideas to real world scrutiny ?  This might be the dumbest great idea ever created.  Nothing simulates the way real humans will use it.  Yet, at least.  Maybe that will be next weeks robot story on Fast Company though !