Peña Station, currently a remote rail station south of Denver International Airport, may be the location of one of the most futuristic smart city developments.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock expressed his desire for Peña Station to be more than just a transit hub and earlier this year Panasonic jumped at the chance to make it a thriving community, outfitted with the latest in smart technologies.
Panasonic has moved its Enterprise Solutions Division headquarters to Peña Station and this month started installing LED street lights in the city-to-be, which are 60 to 70 percent more energy efficient than standard street lights.
The LED street lights may be even more efficient as people begin to move to Peña Station, due to Panasonic’s Internet of Things (IoT) lighting platform, which dims the lights when the street is empty or during a full Moon.
Panasonic also plans to create an energy grid at Peña Station that uses solar power for the day and batteries at night. This is similar to Fujisawa, a sustainable smart town in Japan that Panasonic has worked on since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2012.
Panasonic starting with environmental sensors
Panasonic will begin to deploy environmental sensors that monitor air particles, cloud coverage, noise, temperature, and humidity. Argonne National Laboratory will develop the sensor, Panasonic will deploy it throughout Peña Station.
Next year, Panasonic will also deploy the first self-driving shuttle, built by EasyMile. The EZ10 shuttle will provide access to Denver International Airport and travel at a top speed of 15 mph. As part of the deal, EasyMile will open its own North American headquarters inside Panasonic’s hub, providing Peña Station with more engineering jobs.
MGL Partners, a Denver-based real estate development, will start construction of a 219-apartment unit next year. Other developers are looking at Peña Station as a possible destination for new construction.
Panasonic has not set a time range for when Peña Station should be “complete”, but if the company is aiming for a few hundred residents, it may reach its target in a few years just from employers of various engineering firms.