No time to Sleep. Berlin 2028.
How can we achieve a climate neutral city supplied with only green energy? What would this look like in a capital city like Berlin? Let's take a look into the future and step into the life of a Berlin taxi driver. Our time machine stops in 2028.
07:15 Wedding, Beusselstraße
I try to force myself out of bed, Liz lies beside me, still catching up on her beauty sleep. I give her one last kiss on her nose and I’m up. I’ve got the morning shift today and because there’s an exhibition in Berlin, I expect it to be a busy one.
It’s a chilly morning, I step onto the sidewalk and try to warm my hands by rubbing my palms together. On my way to work I grab breakfast. I just about miss bumping into one of those robots programmed to clean the streets. A coffee and croissant from my local café comes to a total of €1.50. You’ve got to love Berlin prices!
Kalle is already in the taxi lane, I head over to join him as he’s pointing out a car that doesn’t belong here. Kalle is as tall as he is wide. He’s got a mustache and curly hair - very fashionable indeed. He definitely has the whole Berlin style down to a tee. Don't forget that Reinickendorf is one of the hottest districts in Berlin.
New grids are constantly being added to the streets, yet the demand is still not being met. Inductive charging is exceptional, no cables & it's free. Three years ago, the market for e-cars exploded. This was around the time that the companies out of Munich & Stuttgart began manufacturing sophisticated e-cars. My own taxi is a great example, it’s a laid-back mix between a Batmobile and a high-tech Formula-E car. My phone connects automatically, the doors open and the car’s battery status is on display. I receive a call from our main office. It’s Susi. I rarely receive phone calls anymore, most people just use the app, apart from older people or tourists who stick to using the phone. It’s old-school, kinda cute, I guess.
08:00 Berlin Central Station
My next passenger has the physique of a pit bull, whose bald head reminds me of a polished billiard ball. He stares over at me with delight, as if I had just brought him a present. "Lotes Lathaus, please.”, at this time, really? Mmmm…alright. I ask him whether he would like to go directly or take a detour and pass Unter den Linden (most tourists want to see a bit of Berlin, he was no exception). The sun shines over the federal chancellor’s office, which now has hundreds of solar panels. “This is the first government building in Europe to be exclusively powered by renewable energy”, I tell him. As my passenger takes pictures, I give him a brief explanation of the places we pass. “Photovoltaics! From China!”, he shouts with excitement as if he had set up each solar panel himself.
08:20 Mitte, Unter den Linden
Before his meeting, my passenger wants to upload a 4k video onto the cloud. He wants to know where the Wi-Fi is, or even better, where he can find the faster version, Li-Fi. I head towards a street light, point at the triangular antenna and explain “there’re all over Berlin, just look out for these lights with the transmitter symbols!”.
I open my Smart Home App to check the security cameras at home. Liz is still fast asleep. It’s time to get out of bed, sweetie! I open the blinds to let the sunlight in, as that will help to wake her up. I turn on the coffee machine, then the floor heating, and finally put on her favorite song by a South Korean girl band to wake her up. After two minutes, she’s yawning on my screen, “Do I know you?”.
13:00 Mehringdamm, Curry 36
Kalle and I arranged to meet for a curry wurst. There are taxis all lined up in front of the stall where we meet. E.ON converted former telephone boxes into charging stations, for joggers and customers to charge their phones or fitness gadgets.
Ever since mobiles have been made with biosensors, nobody steals them anymore. The alarm signal makes it impossible for thieves to steal. My father’s call interrupts Kalle and me arguing about which curry wurst is the best (Maxe or Krasselts). My old man thinks he’s a racer, he drives a Mustang 68, a beautiful car. He’s still getting over that time I beat him in a race with my taxi.
“Dad, you don’t have a chance against my e-car! It all comes down to the design, I have 100 percent performance in under three seconds.”
“Rubbish, you cheated last time! Meet me at midnight at the Olympiastadion car park. No one's around at that time, so don’t use that as an excuse to chicken out!”.
14:00 Schöneberg, Euref-Campus
I give Liz a lift to the Euref campus, and we pass by Yorckstraße. She’s meeting researchers to discuss something to do with energy. Liz is organising a fundraiser event, a laser light show. The interesting aspect of the show is that solar energy is being stored on two large compartments facing towards the sun during the day. The stored energy can be used at night for the outdoor laser light show and a concert at the former airport, Tempelhof.
I pick Liz up, give her a kiss and a hug, but she’s in a hurry and hops on her e-bike. We drive alongside each other for a while, she’s on the new bike lane which is equipped with tiny LED and solar panels. I’m on a separate e-lane for taxis. Both of us pass by the petrol cars who are stuck in traffic.
21:00 Kreuzberg, Skalitzer Street
Taking a quick nap. I’ve got fifteen minutes!
I’ve overslept! Great…the guys are already waiting for me. This is bad! I’m the coach and I’m the one who is late for practice. My taxi silently whizzes through the city. At Skalitzer I look left and under the elevated railway. I spot a speedway lane for e-bikes which has been there for the past three years. Induction loops give the e-bikes more power, which makes them faster than I am, stuck in heavy traffic.
22:00 Wrangelkiez, Football Pitch
After a half-hour of playing football, I’m exhausted. And I’m not the only one. Murat, Sammy and the others are also gasping for air. But it’s good, because they can’t get into trouble here. Healthy body, healthy mind. It’s great that the lights are still on at this time. MitternachtsSport is simply great! My friend Ismail Öner founded it and expanded the club into other districts in Berlin.
23:00 Schlossstraße, Steglitz
I look up at the starry sky, where there’s a floating zeppelin with an LED screen with live coverage from an event at Tempelhof. Unreal, the audience controls the laser show by their movements on the dance floor. I have no idea how this works, but my honey organized it.
00:15 Teufelsberg, Charlottenburg, with Liz in the Taxi
Finally, we have some time for one another. We park at my favorite spot in Berlin. There’s an incredible view of the entire city. Liz cuddles closer to me. At the exact moment my father’s face appears on my mobile. He’s got his leather driving gloves on.
“Junior, where are you? Google is telling me you are in Teufelsberg. We made plans to meet!”
“Not today dad, it’s been a long day.”
“Tomorrow, I promise!”
“Wimp!” He laughs and hangs up.
Liz leans in, lays her head on my shoulder and whispers to me “You’re going to let him win, ok?”. We can see flying kites above us, hundreds of meters high. And as we look ahead, we can see the lights of the big city. My Berlin.