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article imageHigh-rise graveyards and driver-less hearses — Death goes hi-tech

By Karen Graham     Nov 28, 2017 in Technology
About 100 billion people have lived and died on Earth in the past 50,000 years. And for the seven billion or so humans living today, well, we will be joining those who have preceded us within the next century. So where are we going to bury them?
In Australia, Syria, New York City, Hong Kong, and other countries and cities around the globe, cemeteries are full and because of poor urban planning, there is no room for expansion. And in some cases, religious beliefs require that a body be buried intact, and not cremated.
Some experts say there may be enough room left to bury the "baby boomers," but the same cannot be said for the millennials when they reach their twilight years. For example, Arlington National Cemetery is projected to run out of space by 2041, while in Hong Kong, funeral homes are having trouble finding places to store a deceased' ashes because many public columbaria, where urns are stored, are full.
Moksha Tower in Mumbai  India will cater to the needs of four major cultures/religions represented i...
Moksha Tower in Mumbai, India will cater to the needs of four major cultures/religions represented in the community (Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Parsi),
Yalin Fu & Ihsuan Lin
Basically, the problem can be blamed on the planet's exploding population and migration to urban areas, and this has forced us to look at other approaches to handling the dead. And the issues are far-ranging, too. In India, the Zoroastrian community has been forced to abandon their ancient practice of "sky-burials" because of declining vulture populations in the wild.
In many European countries, graves have traditionally been re-used after 15 to 20 years, when the bodies had decomposed. Sort of like "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." but for some reason, in Germany, as many as one-third of bodies buried 30 or 40 years ago are still not decomposed. In any case, this situation is causing a big re-think in how bodies are taken care of after death.
Memorial Ecumenical Necropolis in Sao Paulo  Brazil.
Memorial Ecumenical Necropolis in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Memorial Ecumenical Necropolis
Introducing vertical cemeteries
There have been any number of solutions to solving the space crisis, including the "Infinity Burial Suit" introduced last year. The burial suit comes with a built-in biomix of mushrooms and microorganisms that break down the body and neutralize toxins, providing an eco-friendly way to go into that good night.
And just as vertical farming has garnered the attention of environmental groups around the globe as a way to save precious land space, so too, has vertical cemeteries taken hold. The high-rise houses of death typically have several floors, lined with coffins neatly stacked in rows or on shelves.
A cemetery on the shoreline in Majuro Atoll is flooded in 2008 by high tides and ocean surges in the...
A cemetery on the shoreline in Majuro Atoll is flooded in 2008 by high tides and ocean surges in the low-lying Marshall Islands, a Pacific atoll chain that rises barely a metre above sea level
Giff Johnson, AFP/File
They tout their space efficiency and attractiveness, although it is still morbid to many people. There are already vertical cemeteries from Israel to Brazil, with further designs being drawn up for vertical cemeteries in cities as diverse as Oslo, Verona, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Paris. The BBC asks - "Could they solve the problem? And will they catch on?"
The Memorial Ecumenical Necropolis in Sao Paulo, Brazil was erected in 1983 and currently has more than 14 thousand loci spread over 14 floors. The Ecumenical Necropolis Memorial is the world's tallest cemetery according to the Guinness Book of Records.
Hearse of the future
Moving the dead around, either from the church to the cemetery of straight to a mausoleum will be made more efficient and effortless through the use of an Aeternal, a prototype of a futuristic hearse created to offer a luxurious and high-tech burial. The Aeternal is made for easy maneuvering in the funeral home, the church, and the cemetery. It can slowly rotate and execute maneuvers in tight spots because it’s equipped with mecanum wheels, also known as ‘Ilon wheels’ after their Swedish inventor, Bengt Ilon.
The Aeternal is a futuristic hearse created to offer a luxurious and high-tech burial.
The Aeternal is a futuristic hearse created to offer a luxurious and high-tech burial.
Lunatic Koncepts
The Aeternal can be operated on auto-pilot or by remote control, and is designed to follow the person leading the processional into the church of funeral home with ease, or do the maneuver all by itself. The casket on the Aeternal is transparent and can be removed when the body is on display.
The Aeternal is also capable of having its own air-conditioning system, as well as allowing for music or videos to be streamed into the system. The vehicle can project holographic content on the floor and speakers could play the deceased’s favorite music during the procession. This can also be disabled, depending on the family's wishes.
The images of the Aeternal concept were created by Abhishek Roy. Roy is the founder of Lunatic Koncepts, a design lab based in Mumbai, India. Roy tried to imagine how today’s hearses could evolve with integrated driverless technology, robotics, and multimedia.
More about funeral services, Graveyards, hearses, Population growth, land scarcity