Paolo Scudieri, founder of Adler Group, has a dream: to rescue Italy’s poorer south with green cars and smart cities.
This Neapolitan gentleman is famous for making super cool designer interiors for nearly all luxury car brands in the world. But luxe comfort isn’t his only passion. Scudieri has a knack for eco-conscious projects and a green soul. After all, his ancestors were enlightened humanists who bred silk worms during the Renaissance to make textiles for the Bourbon Kings, paving way to Naples' first clothing industry. And during the second world war his grandfather sewed garments with cloth patches recycled from abandoned parachutes of American soldiers.
Now he’s come up with an ambitious project to build a green, high-tech “4.0 Hamlet” in Italy’s deep south to pave way to a network of smart cities featuring driverless cars and “intelligent roads”. The goal is to boost sustainable territorial development.
Supported by a pool of global engineers and researchers, and partly funded by local authorities, the plan has already triggered a revolution in what is negatively dubbed Mafia Land. Italy’s south is stifled by low growth, organised crime gangs and excessive red-tape but Scudieri believes the “cities of tomorrow” can uplift the territory and give hope to future generations.
It’s a work in progress. Many towns around Naples have applied to become the 4.0 Hamlet but the most suitable location has yet to be picked by a jury. The area, known as Irpinia, was once a quake-hit spot which might soon now become Italy's Silicon Valley thanks to massive investments ready to flow-in.
The perfect zero-emission car
“This tech hamlet will be a huge innovative yet at the same time eco-conscious open-air lab where reducing environmental impact will be our key motto. Ecological cars represent the future, we need to boost research in making vehicles that further curb CO2 emissions and are built with eco-friendly materials”, says Scudieri.
As a supporter of electric cars he believes there are infinite ways to explore various combinations. “We’ll get to a point in time, I hope, where most vehicles circulating on Italian roads are green but we must not rush it too much. Experimentation and sharpening know-how is crucial in the transition.”
So what’s the ideal model? Hydrogen fuelled, hybrid ones, those that move with alternative energies or plug-in electric vehicles are all variants of the alternative green car that will contribute in reducing city smog and improving health. The end goal is creating the perfect, zero-emission car.
In the futuristic tech hamlet, which will rise in a rural area with lots of space, also autonomous driverless cars will be tested in all safety and patented. The hamlet will be designed as a smart city with intelligent roads where vehicles’ operative systems interact with data plugged into the outside environment featuring interconnectivity systems. For instance the car’s digital software will read external information such as traffic, temperatures, any danger present ahead on the streets.
It will not be a simple isolated lab, but a breathing town. It is crucial to allow the interaction between locals, the surroundings and the driverless car test drives. Green technology is all about its impact on the planet and human beings so the village which will host the project will have at least 5.000 residents, be near major highways and set at 700 meters above sea level. It will be cabled with 5G mobile connection and real-time monitoring and detection systems. The new vehicles must be tested in different climatic conditions and on wide enough roads within a real urban context.
The fact that the tech hamlet will be located in Italy’s so-called Mezzogiorno (that’s how the south is dubbed) rather than in the country’s richer north or in other European country shows just how much Scudieri advocates for its redemption.
“I’m deeply rooted to my land. It’s my home and no matter its many challenges it's important to remain here and create a sustainable economy, hiring young people to offer them a bright future and giving this land an opportunity to rise. It has an enormous potential if only well harnessed”.
Once this green project turns out successful in Irpinia it will be extended to other parts of Italy, and perhaps even abroad. That’s Scudieri ultimate mission.
Words: Silvia Marchetti