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CES 2019: Transport's Autonomous Future


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Every year, CES shows off what's next in technology and what we should expect to see in the future. This year CES hosted a lot of autonomous vehicles - here's a look at the most interesting ones.

Uber’s Air Taxi

First up was the Nexus by the company Bell, which has partnered with Uber to help build their Uber Air network. The Nexus is a hexacopter eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) which will be capable of travelling up to 150mph and around 150 miles on a single charge.

Image Credit: Free-Photos on Pixabay

It will be able to support four passengers and one driver, to begin with. In the future, the idea is to make the vehicle autonomous and carry five passengers instead.

The Nexus will not require any structural redesign to accommodate for it, as it will fit on a regular helicopter pad. Bell is planning for test flights to begin as soon as 2020 in Dallas, Los Angeles and a third yet to be announced location. Commercial flights are to be expected around 2023.

Bell also announced the Autonomous Pod Transport (autonomous flying cargo transport) drone. At CES they showed off versions capable of carrying 20 pounds and 70 pounds with plans to support up to 1000 pounds.

Kia R.E.A.D Emotion and Gesture Control

Kia showed off autonomous cars with R.E.A.D Emotion (Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving System), which will use artificial intelligence to read how passengers are feeling and adapt the vehicle accordingly.

Kia also showed how it will incorporate gesture controls into its future cars.

Yandex’s Self Driving Taxi

The Russian technology company was busy giving attendees at CES rides in its fully autonomous taxi, out in Las Vegas' real-life traffic. The taxi had a predetermined route mapped out and inputted into its navigation system but everything else, including speed, steering and lane changing, was all done by the car’s own decisions.

Yandex’s taxi is a retrofitted Toyota Prius with added radar, LiDar and cameras that allow it to see the road. There was a software engineer on board the demos but were there only for safety reasons and had access to a kill switch if something were to go wrong.

Yandex is already operating its autonomous taxi service in Innopolis and Skolkovo, Russia. Their taxis have already successfully completed more than 2,000 rides.

Mercedes Urbanetic Van

The Mercedes Urbanetic Van idea is a very different idea to autonomous vehicles. The Van is based around an autonomous body which can be fitted with a variety of modules each with a different purpose. The Van was shown off with a passenger, cargo carrying and parcel delivery modules.

Bosch IoT Shuttle

Bosch had its own four-person autonomous concept IoT (Internet of Things) shuttle bus at CES. Bosch is not planning on becoming a car-maker, but wants to build the hardware and software for autonomous vehicles.  

Bosch is building things such as an app, which will allow you to call a shuttle at any time. Also, you will be able to choose whether you wish to ride alone or share with others to save money.

The shuttles will be designed for both short and long haul journeys. When travelling in a shuttle you can work, relax or even go to sleep through the built-in entertainment system.

Transport of the future is looking to very autonomous-based. Will our children even need to take driving tests, or instead be flying back after a night out on the other side of the world? Only time will tell.

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