The 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) offered a glimpse into some automakers’ unique, and arguably extreme, future plans. As the world gathered in Las Vegas in early January of 2020, three-car brands presented their ambitious and inspired ideas.
According to CEO Akio Toyoda, the company is building a 175-acre, hydrogen-powered “smart city” for 2,000 citizens. The city is to serve as a “living laboratory” so scientists and researches can observe residents living a futuristic lifestyle with self-driving cars and a host of other smart devices.
“Toyota Woven City” (as it’s to be called) is expected to be as other-worldly as Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory appeared almost 50 years ago. In fact, Mr. Toyoda said, “You may be thinking, ‘Is this guy a Japanese version of Willy Wonka?’” Toyoda explains the city will be a way to stay on top of the technology trends shaping society today, as well as in the coming decades. The team will study areas such as urbanization, the power of 5G wireless, and how AI will continue to reinvent our devices.
To move throughout the city, residents will choose a “lane” from three available options. One lane will be reserved for autonomous vehicles. One for bikes and scooters. And the third will be a walking trail. The lanes converge at different points, allowing people to get where they need to go, with whichever mode of transportation they prefer.
Inside, homes will be a technological hub for AI and robotics, taking care of household chores like taking out the garbage, setting the fridge temperature and checking personal health stats.
Underground hydrogen cells will power the city and hold an army of robots or conveyer belts to deliver items to homes. As crazy as it sounds, Toyota is taking it quite seriously.
The Korean automaker (fifth largest in the world) has teamed up with Uber and plans to spend $1.5B to build electric self-driving air taxis for big cities. Recent trends in “access” over “ownership” has the automaker’s sales falling worldwide, sparking a growing interest in emerging technologies.
The 4-passenger flying taxis are designed to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter, and fly at speeds up to 180 mph, with a maximum range of 60 miles and a flying height between 1,000-2,000 feet. With only a 5-7-minute recharge break, the taxis are off and running.
Uber predicts the ride-sharing business to take to the skies in the coming years.
Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler teamed up with American film director James Cameron (Terminator, Aliens, Avatar) to create a “living organism” concept car inspired by sci-fi film Avatar. Ola Kallenius, CEO of Daimler says the car is an example of how man and machine might “literally merge.” Cameron called the Mercedes-Benz AVTR vehicle “a spiritual idea made manifest.”
While this may sound a little outrageous, keep in mind it’s only a show car that won’t be available in the near future. The car itself is covered in bionic flaps (scales) and was designed to spark imagination. Named AVTR (Advanced Vehicle Transformation) the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals and a sustainably-sourced, vegan interior. The car starts by sensing the driver’s pulse and breath. The driver controls the vehicle with hand gestures. The vehicle has the ability to move sideways, giving it maximum agility. Of course, all this is theoretical