Have you ever dreamed of living in a futuristic city full of advanced technology and autonomous cars driving through the streets? Well, my friend, that future is closer than you imagine. If you are a resident of Villaverde, a district of Madrid, or are passing through there, in the coming months you may see a delivery drone flying through the sky or encounter a driverless car. But have no fear, it’s not a scene from a science fiction movie, it’s just the beginning of Madrid’s new Mobility Sandbox.
The Madrid Mobility Sandbox is an innovation project that will turn the 20 square kilometers of Villaverde into the largest technological testing ground in Europe. A sandbox is a safe and controlled testing environment where technological innovations can be tested with real people before being commercialized on a large scale. With the recent approval of the new regulatory framework, this project is now going through the Cibeles Municipal Plenary to be approved and transform Madrid into a reference city in the world for attracting innovative projects.
The Deputy Mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís, has explained that “in Villaverde there will be a gap in the regulations for a limited time to test different technological projects and innovations”. Thanks to this, companies, startups and universities will be able to test their prototypes in the street without so much bureaucracy, which will speed up deadlines and processes. For example, before installing smart streetlights that reduce the intensity of light if there is no activity around them, two years could pass, but with this new ordinance it could be only six months.
The plan, which has already hosted several pilot tests, will turn Villaverde’s 20 square kilometers into an “oasis” for testing future inventions in real environments. For example, a driverless car that stops when a child crosses the street with a ball. So far, neighbors have shown a lot of interest in the project, which is a good sign for the councilman and municipal head of Innovation, Ángel Niño.
In addition to being a technological breakthrough, the Madrid Mobility Sandbox will also have a positive impact on the local economy.