The Future Of Travel & The Smart Cities Perspective

In the light of Gemini’s general interest for IoT and the emerging technologies, a certain niche starts to draw our attention more and more lately: autonomous vehicles and their impact on the future of transportation. And CES 2020 was the perfect opportunity to explore this market.

Smart transportation

In the light of Gemini’s general interest in IoT and the emerging technologies, a certain niche starts to draw our attention more and more lately: autonomous vehicles and their impact on the future of transportation.

During his attendance at CES 2020 (the international consumer technology show in Las Vegas), Serban Tar, Gemini Solutions CTO, interacted with some of the most daring innovators in the automotive market, gathering fresh info on the brand new tendencies in this area. Gemini’s experience in digital architecture and developing IoT and embedded systems was the base for very open and applied discussions concerning the trends and challenges in the immediate future.

Here are some revolutionary developments that will certainly influence transportation and city life as we know it right now.

Flying taxi rides 3 years from now

A quick ride with a view above the congested traffic in the cities – that’s what Uber and Hyundai have in plan for 2023. The two companies joined their efforts to create an electric plane, called Uberdai, able to carry a pilot and three passengers at speeds up to 180mph, up to 60 miles across the crowded urban areas. The second-generation aircraft will be automated, but, for now, the flying taxi will be man-operated. S-A1, as they named their full-scale mock-up, was one of the main attractions of this year’s CES.

The two bold companies aren’t the only ones investing in the flying taxi market. Boeing NeXt, an electric aircraft with passenger pods made by Boeing and Bell Nexus, produced by the famous military giant Bell Helicopter are just two of the potential competitors aiming to redefine the very concept of travel.

According to Uber, the first squadrons of flying cars will lift-off in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Melbourne, sometime in 2023.

How would you like to drive your own Sony?

Yes, Sony is now producing cars! Probably one of the biggest surprises at CES was the futuristic prototype Sony’s Vision-S, a marvel on wheels we’ll probably see testing on roads no later than the end of this year. The car comes equipped with 33 sensors for monitoring activity in its proximity, but also with super-features you would surely expect from a brand with Sony’s notoriety: speakers with 360-degree audio built into every seat and a huge panoramic screen stretching across the dashboard.

Ready to inhabit your avatar?

The “living creature” vehicle unveiled by Mercedes-Benz at CES 2020 is a concept car inspired by the Avatar movie. The Vision AVTR name also stands for “Advanced Vehicle Transformation,” therefore the whole concept not only reflects a sci-fi environment, but also pushes the boundaries of a conventional transportation pattern, aiming to demonstrate a totally new way that people, nature, and machines can come together. “We didn’t want to create a car, we wanted to create something like a living organism,” said Gordon Wagener, Mercedes-Benz chief design officer in a speech at CES 2020.

Vision AVTR has no conventional steering wheel, but a multi-functional control device running through the middle of the car which allows the driver to connect with the vehicle via bio-metric readings. It also enables the car to recognize the passenger’s heartbeat and breathing. This environment-friendly concept is mirrored even in the interiors of the prototype, which is made from sustainable materials, such as vegan leather seats and a floor made of rattan.

Vision AVTR has no conventional steering wheel, but a multi functional control device running through the middle of the car which allows the driver to connect with the vehicle via bio-metric readings. It also enables the car to recognize the passenger’s heartbeat and breathing. This environment-friendly concept is mirrored even in the interiors of the prototype, which is made of sustainable materials, such as vegan leather seats and a floor made of rattan.

From electric, autonomous cars to a 100% urban incubator

While its competitors aim at building the smartest Eco-friendly means of transportation of the future, Toyota is planning to create an entire “smart” city. Although Toyota is a renowned global carmaker, this innovative project is not at all car-oriented. In fact, the Woven City, as the designers called it, will be built on the 175-acre site of a former Toyota car factory, at the foot of Mount Fuji, and will be closed to any conventional vehicle. The purpose of this huge enterprise is to create a large test environment for mobility-as-a-service, in-home, and on-street robotics and connected innovations.

“Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the city’s infrastructure,” says Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation.

To reduce the project’s footprint, all the buildings in the prototype city will be made from wood, and the energy will be produced only from solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells.

“With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology in both the virtual and the physical realm,” states Toyoda during his speech at CES.

To conclude, Serban emphasizes that the challenges for software development in transport automation and connected cars are related not as much to the impressive quantity & variety of models, as to ensure top quality in a very complex, machine/hardware-based, and fast-evolving environment. Compromises on quality in such critical applications could lead to irremediable consequences, both for the companies involved and the end-users.

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