Technology

Satellite images show trailer for Saudi Arabia’s science-fiction megacity ‘The Line’

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke in early 2021 An idyllic zero-carbon megacity with a capacity of 9 million residents: The Line, A few months ago we were able to see the first images of the project that began to be built, recently MIT Technology Review has shown the city of the future from satellites, a new perspective that allows us to appreciate its 170 kilometers long and only 200 meters Wide in the middle of the desert.

The megaconstruction will have a height of 1 kilometer, so it will be taller than it is wide and cars will not be able to enter it. To get around, its residents have to resort Metro Train and Electric Air TaxiA measure with which the line would pretend to be a permanent city.



Despite all the aspirations of the project, it should be noted that they intend to include in the municipality It is still in the development stage. For example, air taxis are still being tested, as are robotic domestic servants and renewable energy desalination of seawater.

MIT Technology Review spoke with Amir Farhand, CEO and founder of Sour Earth, an Australian company that aggregates satellite imagery and collaborative maps into an online digital atlas. He estimated that workers must have excavated about 26 cubic meters of dirt and rock since June, but In images from Google Maps and Google Earth they showed the process in an even more early stage.

Saudi Arabia is restricting satellite coverage

When Farhand looked at the official images shared in October from The Line, he realized that the excavation was far more advanced than the latest published satellite images. Google gets its images from government satellites, such as US Landsat or EU Sentinel 2and from commercial providers, such as maxar o planet, While photos were available for download for the first two, they were of low resolution.

Although he thought that 'The Line' would end in 2023, it may not be completed.
This is the photo that OT shared with The Sky in October.
ot sky

“When we began to approach, we found that there were significant gaps in Maxar coverage,” Farhand told MIT Technology Review. In fact, high-definition images did not exist publicly“. As he points out, other companies in the sector also had problems accessing detailed images: “It was then that we thought, something must be happening.”

“If no MAXAR images have been acquired in an area experiencing rapid economic investment, something is amiss,” says Jamon Van Den Hoek, professor of geography and director of the Conflict Ecology Laboratory at Oregon State University. It should be noted that Saudi Arabia has invested about $500 billion in The Line. Experts tell MIT Technology Review it probably is money interest holding “a special right” for high resolution images.

However, other professionals such as Doug Specht, professor of geography at the University of Westminster in London, have another hypothesis: “My immediate reaction is that The high resolution doesn’t matter because it’s in the middle of a desert And high-resolution images are incredibly expensive to own and distribute.”

Maxar’s senior director of news bureaus, Stephen Wood, stressed that they are focusing on the areas that are showing the most change, so it appears the line isn’t yet their priority. for his part, Planet contains high resolution images Available for licensing from The Line, but these have not yet appeared on Google Maps.


New York's Central Park is located at the bottom of the world's thinnest skyscraper.

Images that Tire had access to

Although they are not publicly displayed, it appears to have some high-quality images. Those photos have been shared by MIT Technology Review, thanks to the Australian company Soar, which in October paid two Asian startups (CG Satellite in China and 21AT in Singapore) to take pictures of the construction.

The red dots are the diggers, the yellow spots are the excavated areas, and the purple dots are the spots where they piled earth.
The red dots are the diggers, the yellow spots are the excavated areas, and the purple dots are the spots where they piled earth.
fly high

The photographs show that the activity currently taking place is concentrated only in a part of the 5 km line in a hilly valley. Overall, they count 425 Excavator Vehicles On Line and over 650 vehicles in a construction base, which houses a swimming pool, soccer field and cricket pitch.

even in pictures Shallow digging sites and less vehicles are seen, Sor estimates that the photos show only half the length proposed in the project and only a quarter of its final area.

The points excavated so far show a smaller project than the one promised.
The points excavated so far show a smaller project than the one promised.
fly high

NEOM, the company running The Line, promised a city 170 km long and 200 meters wide. pictures teach about 70 km long, 150 m wide And its excavation depth is estimated to be 20 meters, when the foundations of buildings 500 meters high are usually up to 60 meters underground.

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