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What happens in Vegas…

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 09, 2020 Published on January 09, 2020

A medley of flying car concepts, electric supercars, robots and displays with an alphabet soup of futuristic tech involving EVs, AI, AR, VR, 8K and 3D printing greets you in the massive convention center halls of Las Vegas’s mega hotel properties

Here are some of the auto tech innovations and futuristic mobility solutions for the next decade and more from the world’s top consumer electronics show

If the inevitable march towards electrics and plug-ins wasn’t evident from the increasing number of EVs and hybrids being debuted, there is one more pointer. The leap in participation by the big automotive brands at electronics shows has been driven by the potential migration to EVs, but is possibly also due to a shift in the focus audience towards a younger demographic. More touchscreens instead of knobs in today’s cars and the slow-but-steady progress towards autonomous driving are a reflection of what the current generation of car buyers want. Even though the traditional yardstick of sales conversions can’t be applied to trade shows, another reason for the exodus of car brands from ‘Motor Shows’ around the world (including our own Auto Expo) is probably because of the exorbitant participation fees that still prevail at these car shows.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, US is one of the biggest of its kind and has become the new showcase capital for automobile brands despite the usual preponderance of gadgets and other personal consumer tech at the event. If the already surrealistic atmosphere of ‘Sin City’ wasn’t enough to boggle one’s mind, CES takes it to another level. It feels like you are walking into the fictional tech show hosted by Marvel Entertainment’s Tony Stark (Iron Man). A medley of flying car concepts, electric supercars, robots and displays with an alphabet soup of futuristic tech involving EVs, AI, AR, VR, 8K and 3D printing greets you in the massive convention center halls of Las Vegas’s mega hotel properties. Here are a few highlights from CES 2020:

Hyundai S-A1

No, that is not the abbreviated model code name for the next compact sedan from the Korean brand. Instead, it is the full scale concept model of the first flying vehicle from Hyundai. Yes, you read that right, the brand is taking to the skies with a plan to get into mainstream production within the next 3 to 5 years. Hyundai Motor has partnered with Uber for the new partnership to develop Air Taxis for a future aerial ride share network. The new full-scale aircraft concept was unveiled at the CES. Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles. The air vehicle concept was created in part through Uber’s open design process, a NASA-inspired approach that jump-starts innovation by publicly releasing vehicle design concepts so any company can use them to innovate their air taxi models and engineering technologies.

This is the full scale concept model of the first flying vehicle from Hyundai. The air vehicle concept was created in part through Uber’s open design process, a NASA-inspired approach

In this partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles, and Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network. Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles. Hyundai and Uber Elevate have collaborated to develop the PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) model, S-A1, that utilizes unique design to optimize the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

It is designed for a cruising speed of up to 290 kmph, a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet above ground, and to fly trips up to 100 kms range. The Hyundai vehicle will be 100 per cent electric, utilizing distributed electric propulsion and during peak hours will require about five to seven minutes for recharging. The aircraft based on the S-A1 powered by distributed electric propulsion, will use multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe to increase safety by decreasing any single point of failure. Having several, smaller rotors also reduces noise relative to large rotor helicopters with combustion engines, which is very important to cities. The model is designed to take off vertically, transition to wing-borne lift in cruise, and then transition back to vertical flight to land. The 4-seater Hyundai vehicle will be piloted initially, but over time they will become autonomous.

Sony Safety Cocoon

One of the other surprise displays at the CES this year was Sony Electronics which showcased the possibility of it being a maker of an autonomous car. It has already been a sensors and systems manufacturer that has been supplying cameras and CMOS sensors for OE car makers that have featured different levels of autonomous driving capabilities in their vehicles.

Broadly, Sony’s efforts in the area of mobility pursuing safety, reliability, comfort and entertainment are being positioned as a new initiative, named ‘VISION-S’. The first prototype vehicle to result from ‘VISION-S’ and called ‘Safety Cocoon’, incorporates the brand’s imaging and sensing technologies, as well as on-board software regulated using Sony’s AI, telecommunication and cloud technologies, in order to continuously update and evolve its features.

The first prototype vehicle to result from ‘VISION-S’ and called ‘Safety Cocoon’, incorporates the brand’s imaging and sensing technologies, as well as on-board software regulated using Sony’s AI, telecommunication and cloud technologies

 

A total of 33 sensors including CMOS image sensors, solid state LiDAR and ToF sensors are embedded within the vehicle, in order to detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the car, and provide highly advanced driving support. Sony’s “360 Reality Audio” provides a deep and immersive audio experience through speakers built into each seat to encapsulate passengers in sound. The front seats face a panoramic screen on which content can be enjoyed through an intuitive user interface says Sony.

Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR

If it is Vegas, the Hollywoodian influence can’t be very far away. At CES this year, German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz was the one posing for the cameras with a concept inspired by the hugely popular Sci-fi film series Avatar.

According to Merc, their concept vehicle connects human, machine and nature in an unprecedented way. The Vision AVTR is the result of a global partnership between Mercedes-Benz and the AVATAR films franchise. The VISION AVTR concept vehicle uses a revolutionary battery technology developed with graphene-based organic cell chemistry that is completely free of rare earths and metals. The materials of the battery are compostable and therefore completely recyclable. In this way, Merc claims that electromobility can become independent of fossil resources. In doing so, the company wants to underline the high relevance of a future “circular economy” in the raw materials sector.

The VISION AVTR concept vehicle uses a revolutionary battery technology developed with graphene-based organic cell chemistry that is completely free of rare earths and metals

 

The concept of the VISION AVTR combines the design disciplines interior, exterior and UX on an unprecedented scale. A design language inspired by nature characterizes the appearance of the concept vehicle. This is illustrated by the stretched, sporty “one-bow” design, which merges with spherically pronounced wheelhouses. Merc says that 33 multi-directionally movable flaps – the “bionic flaps” – on the back of the vehicle enable a new form of interaction for the VISION AVTR with its surroundings.

Digital neurons, which flow from the interior of the concept vehicle when connected to the vehicle, enable communication with the environment. The interior of the VISION AVTR is said to become an immersive experience space conveying a completely new user experience. A menu selection projected onto the palm of the hand allows the passenger to intuitively choose between different functionalities.

Published on January 09, 2020
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