CES 2019: 5 Wild Inventions on Wheels From Self-Driving to Walking Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles, future car concepts, and all-electric automobiles on display at CES 2019 in Las Vegas have continued the event’s evolution from a largely a home electronics show to an all-encompassing digital showcase. And increasingly, that means more wheels.
Legacy car brands, electric bicycle startups, and everyone in between have convened to give attendees of the yearly tech exhibition a glimpse of where the future of transportation is accelerating towards. And some of these featured creations are the wildest things on wheels you’ve seen. How many of them graduate the everyday in a decade is still unclear, though.
All five debuts on this list share a two traits: They use sustainable energy and employ some form of autonomous movement.
5. Take a Ride in a Yandex Self-Driving Taxi
Attendees could hop in the passenger seat of a fully Toyota Prius, courtesy of Russia’s largest technology firm, Yandex. The company made its self-driving debut in the United States by ferry participants along the Las Vegas strip with no one in the driver’s seat.
PC Magazine called the experience the “smoothest ride” at the convention and YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee recorded video of his demo. The system makes use a laser Lidar arrays in the back and rear bumpers and five 360-degree cameras mounted on its roof.
4. Autonomous Transit Pods Could Replace Cars One Day
If self-driving cars one day replace what we drive today, designs for vehicles would fundamentally need to change. German engineering company Bosch envisions this change coming in the form of an all-electric lounge on wheels.
Its conceptual self-driving shuttle ditches a steering wheel and front seat for a communal space where passengers could chat, work, or even ignore each other in silence while looking at their phones. If this vehicle ever actually goes into production, customers will be able to hail one on their smartphones just like an Uber and share their ride with others. Bosch markets it as a minimizer of traffic and pollution.
The firm estimates that by 2020 there could be as many as a million similar shuttles on the road and up to 2.5 million by 2025.
3. Self-Driving Motorcycles Are Here for Hog Fans
Self-driving cars might be all the rage, but German automaker BMW is set on fine-tuning an autonomous motorcycle, and it’s pretty close. The company showed off a modified R1200 GS bike making sharp, accurate turns in a CES parking lot all by itself.
BMW doesn’t want to replace bikers, it wants to help them avoid accidents on the road with this tech. BMW announced its goal to reduce bike-related casualties by 50 percent once this feature is ready for the road. It also revealed that future GS motorcycles models will be given “adaptive cruise control” capabilities two years from now. So BMW bikes might soon come with some something akin to Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
2. The Future of Urban Cycling Could Be On Four Wheels
German automotive manufacturer Schaeffler has announced it will reinvent the electric-assisted bicycle. It’s “Bio-Hybrid” bike will have four wheels, headlights, and look like a cross between a Smart car and a baby stroller.
“We have taken all the advantages of a bike and got rid of all the disadvantages such as instability,” stated the company at CES.
The futuristic bicycle is expected to launch in 2020 will come with 250W motors capable of going 15.5 mph with a 31-mile range. It seems to be an attempt to tempt city-dwellers to convert to bicycles that won’t make you sweaty. Crucially, they also have roofs for bad weather.
1. A Star Wars-esque Robotic Walking Car
Finally, Hyundai revealed the concept for a robotic, walking car that looks like an AT-AT from Star Wars, called “Elevate.”
The Korean car company primarily proposed this “ultimate mobility vehicle” as an emergency response transporter that’s able to traverse all sorts of terrain and step over a five-foot wall with its wheels on legs.
But it was also open to other use cases that are more everyday, say executives.
“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations - people living with disabilities worldwide that don’t have access to an ADA ramp could hail an autonomous Hyundai Elevate that could walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow their wheelchair to roll right in – the possibilities are limitless,” says Hyundai VP John Suh.
The Elevate vehicle would be completely autonomous, fully electric, and based on a modular platform. This would enable it to turn into an urban taxi, ambulance for natural disasters, or snowmobile. A release date on this rover-like machine hasn’t been announced, so don’t expect it to be walking up to your drive way any time soon.