Through the looking glass

Dhiram Shah | Updated on January 31, 2020

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR: was designed in collaboration with James Cameron and his Lightstorm Studio   -  DAIMLER AG

Hyundai: arrived at the CES 2020 expo with a “flying car” concept developed in partnership with Uber

Sony Vision S The mobility technologies on display include advanced driver assistance features and self-driving functionality assisted by 33 sensors

From flying cars to Alexa-integrated vehicles and lounge-like interiors, the automobile industry has a lot up its sleeve

Every January, the top tech companies from around the globe gather in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), to highlight new technologies that give a glimpse into the future. With the tech world making deeper inroads into the automobile sector, car manufacturers are a major draw at the CES. Here’s a list of the best car technology on offer from CES 2020, from flying car concepts to a fully ‘smart’ car.

Sony Vision S electric car concept

The Japanese electronics giant surprised everyone by announcing an electric car concept called Vision S at the end of its press conference at CES 2020. The concept was developed in collaboration with brands such as NVIDIA, Continental AG, Bosch, ZF, and Qualcomm. The Vision S is a fully-functional vehicle with two electric motors and was created in partnership with automotive manufacturer Magna. The mobility technologies on display include advanced driver assistance features and self-driving functionality assisted by no fewer than 33 sensors. Inside the cabin, the Vision S concept has Sony’s advanced in-car entertainment technology. The entire dashboard is covered by a cluster of displays spanning pillar-to-pillar, while the rear passengers get their own set of seat-embedded screens that can be used to control a 360-degree Reality Audio system.

Hyundai S-A1 Urban Air Mobility concept

Hyundai arrived at the CES 2020 expo with a “flying car” concept developed in partnership with Uber for its ambitious Elevate aerial ride-sharing service. The compact aircraft is powered by multiple electrically-driven tilt rotors that give the S-A1 vertical take-off and landing capabilities. The South Korean automaker claims the air taxi has a cruising altitude between 1,000 and 2,000 feet and can reach a top speed of 320 km/h. The battery pack powering the aircraft will give it a range of around 60 miles and will only need 5-7 minutes between trips for recharging thanks to rapid charging. The cabin seats five people including the pilot, but Hyundai says the idea is to make the aircraft fully-autonomous. The flying taxi also features a parachute deployment system should the worst happen.

Aston Martin digital rear-view mirror

Aston Martin had on display a new hybrid rear-view mirror which features a combination of traditional car mirrors and its digital counterparts. Called the Full Display Mirror (FDM), the hybrid rear-view mirror was created in partnership with Gentex and displayed on the automaker’s DBS Superleggera at the expo. The unit is capable of displaying three different video feeds simultaneously on the in-cabin rear-view mirror, which gives an extensive view of the rear and covers the blind spots. The system uses cameras mounted onto each side view mirror along with another camera on the roof. And, in case the camera malfunctions, or is blocked by dirt or grime, then the unit can act as an LCD display or a standard auto dimming rear-view mirror.

Lamborghini x Alexa

Lamborghini announced its partnership with Amazon at this year’s CES, making it the first automobile manufacturer to fully integrate Alexa into its in-car entertainment system. The Lamborghini Huracan Evo will be the first product from its line-up that will get Amazon Alexa support. The integration of the voice assistant directly into the native infotainment system will help the driver control an extensive list of functions in the car with the use of voice commands. Lamborghini showcased a promotional video at the expo that demonstrates how Alexa can be used to adjust ambient lighting, change the climate control settings, open the garage door, select play lists, tweak the HVAC settings (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), and much more.

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept

The German automaker unveiled an outlandish concept car at CES 2020 that was inspired by the 2009 movie Avatar. Called the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR (Advanced Vehicle Transformation) concept, it was designed in collaboration with Avatar director James Cameron and his Lightstorm Studio. Just like the movie, the highlight of the concept car is its trippy lighting, including on the spherical wheels that Mercedes-Benz says were inspired by the seeds of the Tree of Souls, a reference from the film. Another standout feature is the car’s rear end which is entirely covered in 33 discrete, movable scales. Called Bionic Flaps, Mercedes says they could be used to communicate with people outside the car.

Audi AI:ME concept

Audi used the CES to display its ultra-futuristic AI:ME concept car that showcases the German automaker’s vision for a fully-autonomous electric car. It is the fourth concept car of the manufacturer’s AI Series and features level four autonomous driving, capable of completely driving itself without any human supervision or input. Although the car has a steering wheel and pedals inside the cabin for it to be driven like a regular car, the controls stay hidden when the car is in autonomous mode, creating a lounge-like layout. The concept also uses artificial intelligence to proactively interact with the passengers and automatically optimise climate control, interior lighting and other functions. The car is powered by a single 170 horsepower electric motor that derives its power from a 65 kWh battery.

Dhiram Shah is the Mumbai-based founder of

Published on January 31, 2020

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