Man and Machine … Uber Elevate’s flying car developed with Hyundai, Toyota’s city of the future at Mount Fuji, and Mercedes Benz’s AVTR are the stars of CES 2020

January 6, 2020

The interaction between man and machine in the future was the theme of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. As the intelligence of machines rises dramatically, new opportunity spaces emerge as traditional sectors overlap, and new possibilities are realised. None more so than in the world of mobility.

In fact the interaction between humans and technology is partly about augmentation, machines enabling us to be more human in many different, but also about the convergence of the two sides. This happens in function and also form. Nature gives fresh inspiration for this convergence showing how ingenuity rises out in our habitats to enable incredible feats.

So to the technology. Leading the dramatic launches was a full-scale prototype of Hyundai and Uber’s flying car.

The egg-shaped vehicle will be able to take off and land vertically, hold four passengers and fly at up to 200 miles per hour. Hyundai is the first global carmaker to partner Uber to create aerial cars for the ride-hailing app’s planned air taxi network. Uber, hopes to open aerial ride bookings to the public in two years.

The two companies plan to show off a full-scale model of the vehicle this week on the trade show floor. Hyundai’s aerial taxi would be able to take off and land vertically, accommodate four passengers and cruise at up to 200 miles per hour. It would be fully electric with a range of 60 miles.

The concept is similar to those designed by Boeing and a handful of other companies in collaboration with Uber Elevate, the ride-hailing company’s aerial division. Uber said it will conduct the first public demonstration of a flying car this year and allow customers to book aerial rides by 2023.

Other highlights at CES:

Toyota plans to build a “city of the future”at the base of Mount Fuji for 2000 complete with an autonomous car lab and smart homes. It unveiled the audacious plan for what it will call “Woven City”, in a reference to its origins as a loom manufacturer, at the big annual technology industry show, CES. “It’s hard to learn something about a smart city if you are only building a smart block,” James Kuffner, chief executive officer for the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, told Reuters.

The “Woven City” idea, under discussion for a year, is aimed at creating safer, cleaner, more fun cities and learning lessons that could be applied around the world, he added. It will have police, fire and ambulance services, schools and could be home to a mix of Toyota employees, retirees and others, Kuffner said. The development, to be built on the site of a car factory that is planned to be closed by the end of 2020, will begin with 2,000 residents in coming years, and also serve as a home to researchers.

Sony has unveiled its own electric vehicle. Called the Sony Vision-S, it’s an electric concept sedan that is meant to showcase the Japanese tech conglomerate’s many different strengths, from entertainment products to camera sensors and more.

In fact, the Vision-S features 33 different sensors inside and outside of the car, multiple widescreen displays, 360 audio, and always-on connectivity, with some pieces coming from industry players like BlackBerry and Bosch. It’s also powered by a “newly-designed EV platform” — which appears to have been engineered by automotive supplier Magna — that Sony says will be able to power other vehicle types, like SUVs. Verge said the outside of the vehicle has some strong Porsche vibes, especially around the headlights, and in side profile it somewhat resembles the Lucid Motors Air. Inside, the Vision-S features a dashboard-spanning screen much like the one that Chinese EV startup Byton is putting in its cars, with screens for rear-seat passengers in the headrests.

Samsung is turning any surface into a keyboard using a smartphone’s front facing camera. Selfie Type doesn’t require any peripheral and doesn’t project anything. Instead, it uses the Galaxy’s camera to simply track your hands as you memory type. According to the information posted by a user in Samsung’s community site, “Selfie Type is a technology that utilizes the front camera and AI to analyze finger position and type without physical buttons.”

According to the source, who claims that Samsung will introduce it at CES 2020 this week, only English is currently supported. It seems pretty simple: just put your phone or tablet on a vertical position — or, if you have a Galaxy Fold, set it up in L-mode — and start typing with your fingers pretending you are hitting actual keys. Selfie Type appears to support gestures too, like pinching the air to send a message.

The interaction between man and machine in the future, was the topic of the CES Keynote Speech from Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. His new concept car underlined the theme.

Mercedes Benz’s concept car inspired by the movie Avatar. The Vision AVTR is a concept for mobility in the distant future. translating to ‘advanced vehicle transformation’, and sets to showcase “a new interaction between human, machine and nature” by fusing its exterior, interior and user experience. The result distinguishes a distinctive inside-out design that also references several creatures from the original movie.

“The main thing in my life right now is sustainability. I look at this vehicle and I see the future. it is not just the automotive future with all the wonderful things it could inspire in real production cars, but also an aspirational future for humans. For a major manufacturing company like Mercedes-Benz to make this commitment is awesome and I think it should be celebrated. When I look at this beautiful car, I see the physical manifestation of the velocity of an emotional, spiritual idea. They manifest and inspire” explained James Cameron, director, screenwriter and producer of Avatar.