The “C” in this year’s CES2018 could have easily stood for “cars”, as vehicles from a variety of new entities as well as established players, were seemingly everywhere at CES2018. And it is much more than cars, as the vehicles ranged from personal transport to delivery to shared. The impact of the technologies go beyond mobility and extend to the so-called smart city.
Vehicle electrification was everywhere and, although much of the media attention was on feature-rich and luxurious cars from the likes of Toyota, Fisker and Byton, the rollout of electric mini-cars in the $10k to $15k range may ultimately have a bigger impact than their glitzy cousins, as they open the market to those who otherwise could not afford the shift to electric.
The international and upstart manufacturers behind these vehicles often feature non-conventional direct to consumer business models and vehicle assembly in atypical locations, such as Riverside, CA, the Portland, Oregon area and Austin, Texas.
Local Motors with its 3D printed Ollie is the epitome of local production, as they envision local printing and final assembly in the same urban locations where their Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) vehicles will be deployed. These types of vehicles from Navya are already roaming the streets of downtown Las Vegas and, at CES2018, they introduced their robo-taxi, which can be summoned for on-demand rides.
Mobility promises to get even more interesting, when vehicles subtend from larger vehicles, such as this concept drone associated with an intelligent police SUV. And using the 3rd dimension for an urban air taxi could be reality by mid-2020, if Bell Helicopter and Uber stick to their plan to bring an autonomous air service to the Dallas area. At CES, attendees got a preview of the flight experience with a VR simulation.
The face of retail could change, if robo-delivery vehicles, such as the autonomous grocery store from Robomart or the Ford/Domino Pizza delivery vehicle, gain market acceptance. It was clear from Ford’s booth, that they see the changes in mobility as providing urban planners a way to redesign cities to focus on humans, instead of cars. As such, the electric bikes, scooters and other forms of personal transport fit well into the human-scale, urban design that Ford advocates.
Better mobility, as part of a smart city strategy was seen in many of the booths. Connectivity, whether high-speed with emerging 5G standards, or lower speed over unlicensed wide area networks, is assumed to be a given. Connected Signals demonstrated a clever way for communicating critical traffic signal timing information to drivers over existing infrastructure. Their upcoming study should shed light on the efficiency and safety improvements resulting from their infrastructure to vehicle technology.
The many CES2018 demonstrations showing connectivity, mobility options, electrification, autonomy and artificial intelligence represent the foundational elements that will create the smart cities of the not-too-distant future.
A big thank you to Calix for its support of Viodi coverage of CES2018.