Innovations cont.

Uber flying taxi

The South Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, has announced that it’s going to produce vertical takeoff and landing flying air taxis for Uber. With its extensive experience in aerodynamic design, composite materials and rational construction technologies, Hyundai will be able to produce these aircraft on an industrial scale. This partnership could help Uber to achieve its aim of deploying air taxis in some towns by 2023.

The partnership must ensure that these short-distance air taxis are affordable for everyone. The aim of transport in the skies is to significantly reduce the journey time for passengers travelling out of town centres congested by local traffic.
Uber announced that it had chosen Melbourne, in Australia, as well as Dallas and Los Angeles in the United States, to become the first cities to offer Uber Elevate flights.

Cruising Speed of 290 km/h

The first prototype, the S-A1, was presented at the CES in Las Vegas. Its cruising speed can reach 290 km/h at an altitude of between 300 and 600 m, with an autonomy of 100 km. The device uses 100% “distributed” electric propulsion, achieved with several rotors that can keep it airborne if one of them encounters a problem. These small rotors also help to reduce noise pollution in the city. The Hyundai vehicle will at first have a pilot and carry four passengers. In the long term and as soon as the technologies have been adapted, a pilotless system will be used. The first test flights should take place as early as this year, prior to commercial deployment by 2023.

A Mobility Ecosystem

Flying taxis will be integrated into a global outlook for urban mobility led by Hyundai. In addition to the SA-1aerial taxi, Hyundai has developed so-called PBV shuttles, inspired by San Francisco’s cable cars. These PBVs will be used not only as shuttles or a means of transport, but also as mobile or fixed restaurants, cafés, hotels, clinics or pharmacies.
Lastly, the Hub, whose retractable roof can serve as a landing area for the S-A1 taxi, could be designed as a multi-service mobility space to which the PBVs are connected.

Lamborghini integrate Alexa

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lamborghini revealed that the Huracán EVO is the first car to integrate Amazon Alexa to control vehicle systems. Other automakers have integrated Alexa, but only for cloud-based controls.

With voice commands, drivers can adjust climate control, interior lighting, seat heating, and even drive modes through Alexa.

The system will also provide cloud-based services like other automakers. Drivers can place calls, get directions, play music or audiobooks, and check weather and news via voice commands.

Alexa will also work with a growing number of connected devices. Drivers will be able to control their homes’ thermostats, entry gates and lights. More functions are sure to follow as Amazon Alexa grows, and Lamborghini says the vehicle’s infotainment will make it compatible with future Alexa updates. The company also says both companies are developing further connectivity with Amazon Web Services, which is the company’s database, developer, and cloud-computing infrastructure.

The Lamborghini Huracán was updated for 2019 and was renamed the Huracán EVO. Its 5.2-liter V-10 engine produces 640 horsepower and can launch the car from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, with the aid of a standard all-wheel-drive system. Lamborghini has also unveiled the rear-wheel-drive version of the Huracán Evo as a 2020 model. It makes 610 hp, hits 62 mph from a stop in 3.3 seconds, and can drift via a sport mode.

Aston Martin trial the Gentex rear vision mirror

Digital rear-view mirrors that stream video from a rear-facing camera have been around for a while, and GENTEX is now ready to showcase a potential evolution for the technology.

Gentex, a company that specializes in auto-dimming rear view mirrors, have launched a new digital rear view camera that integrates video from two cameras covering a vehicle’s blind spots.

It means that instead of a warning light that current blind spot monitors provide, the Gentex system shows video of the actual road and any objects that may be blocked by the blind spot. Gentex’s system uses three cameras, one mounted to each of the side mirrors and a third at the rear edge of the roof. It is being demonstrated on the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

The system features an auto-adjust element that alters the video feeds from the cameras at each of the side mirrors should a driver adjust the mirror position. And while all of the information in the rear-view mirror will probably take some getting used to, there’s the option to switch it off, in which case the rear-view mirror behaves like a standard auto-dimming mirror.

The system retains the standard side mirrors and meets all existing safety regulations. In addition, the system can be tuned to meet various regulatory field-of-view requirements around the world with simple alterations to the video viewing modes.

Aston Martin has praised the technology and has hinted that the system might eventually feature in its cars.

Sony announces electric car concept

Technology giant Sony has revealed a bold electric concept car called the Vision-S to showcase its autonomous driving and in-car entertainment systems.

The four-door saloon features a raft of technology that Sony intends to make to realise a highly advanced autonomous driving society.

Few technical details of the concept, which is understood to have been developed and built with the help of partners including Magna Steyr, Bosch, Nvidia and others, but Sony says it is powered by a pair of 268bhp electric motors. These give it a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 149mph.

The key goal of the Vision-S is to showcase Sony’s automotive-relevant technology. It has 33 sensors of varying types embedded within it; these can identify people and objects both inside and outside the car as part of a ‘safety cocoon’.

They include CMOS image sensors, which Sony claims offer high definition and high dynamic range while supressing LED flicker, and Solid State LiDAR.

Inside, the Vision-S features a number of Time-of-Flight (ToF) in-car sensors that can detect and recognise people within, to optimise infotainment and comfort systems.

It is unclear if Sony has plans to make its own cars, or simply to develop technology to sell to existing manufacturers.

Artificial intelligence - The future

Artificial intelligence (AI) and self-driving cars are often complimentary topics in technology. Simply put, you cannot really discuss one without the other.

Though AI is being implemented at rapid speed in a variety of sectors, the way in which it’s being used in the automotive industry is a hot-button issue right now.

With every car manufacturer and their mother racing to develop artificial intelligence and self-driving technologies, there are also a slew of tech companies and startups with the same purpose.

Though many believe personal, autonomous vehicles are the future, there are multiple ways in which AI and machine learning are being implemented in how vehicles are built and how they operate on the road.


Many major auto manufacturers are working to create their own autonomous cars and driving features, but we’re going to focus on relatively young tech companies and startups that have formed out of the idea of self-driving vehicles.

Whether their technology is for use in public transportation, ride sharing or personal needs, the following companies are at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology.



Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it’s using AI in automotive: nuTonomy is creating autonomous technology for completely driverless vehicles.

nuTonomoy’s technology, nuCore allows for flexible and human-like vehicle handling (without the error). The software enables vehicles to navigate even the most complex traffic situations.

The company’s goal is to provide fleets of autonomous cars wherever they’re needed to ensure safer roads, less traffic and less pollution.



Location: San Jose, California

How it’s using AI in automotive: AutoX makes retail-based autonomous vehicles.

The company’s vehicles combine AI software, sensors, real-time cameras and thousands of test miles, both virtual and real, to ensure safe decisions on the road.

Currently with a focus on grocery delivery, users can pick items through their app and have them delivered along with the ability to browse their vehicle-based mobile store upon delivery.


Location: Mountain View, California

How it’s using AI in automotive: is utilizing artificial intelligence to change current transportation systems with self-driving services.

The vehicles are not only autonomous, they also communicate with drivers and pedestrians within the vicinity, such as displaying a sign to pedestrians indicating it will wait for them to cross.

The purpose of the fleets is to transport passengers along fixed routes that are more easily monitored than personal autonomous vehicles, which need to stay updated with changes that can impact driving, such as construction, speed limits, accidents and road closures.

Optimus Ride


Location: Boston, Massachusetts

How it’s using AI in automotive: Optimus Ride is a self-driving vehicle company that creates autonomous cars for geo-fenced locations.

The company’s smart, electric vehicles enable the implementation of more efficient and sustainable cities, freeing up parking, limiting the amount of cars on the road and decreasing environmental impact.

Coming out of MIT, Optimus provides easy and safe transportation for campuses, communities and cities.



Location: Mountain View, California

How it’s using AI in automotive: Beginning as Google’s exploration of self-driving vehicles, Waymo is now it’s own company creating driverless vehicles that can safely deliver people from points A to B.

With over eight million autonomous miles driven to date, Waymo’s 360-degree perception technology detects pedestrians, other vehicles, cyclists, road work and other obstacles from up to 300 yards away.



Location: Foster City, California

How it’s using AI in automotive: While some companies are outfitting existing vehicles with self-driving capabilities, Zoox is creating their own autonomous vehicles from scratch.

The cars are being produced to be a robotic rideshare vehicle. Similar to current transportation services like Uber or Lyft, a user would summon a Zoox vehicle for a ride through an app on their smartphone.

Hydrogen BMW

After a journey of more than 25 years, German premium automaker BMW is finally, belatedly, entering the hydrogen fuel-cell production race.

BMW confirmed that it will put a toe-in-the-water hydrogen-powered X5 onto the market this year before a full series production fuel-cell goes on sale in 2025.

“In the early ‘20s there will be a small series of X5 hydrogen cars and by 2025 there will be a mass production hydrogen car available, with Toyota,” BMW’s director of development Klaus Frölich said.

Toyota has a technological lead in fuel-cell stacks, but BMW are more advanced in tank technology.

But arch-rival Mercedes-Benz is already in the European market with its GLC Fuel Cell and Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have production fuel-cell cars (and even Audi had A7 h-tron fuel-cell cars for journalists to drive at the Los Angeles auto show two years ago).

BMW has been working with hydrogen for more than 25 years and even dabbled with the idea of burning liquefied hydrogen directly inside internal combustion powerplants, which would have saved a lot of retooling headaches.

In more recent times, the “i5” nameplate it registered three years ago was widely speculated to be a production mid-sized BEV, but sources insisted it was always supposed to be a hydrogen fuel-cell car.

Cost, complexity and packaging are the biggest hurdles for fuel-cell makers. BMW insists it could put a fuel-cell car into production today, but has held it back for cost reasons – even though it has developed four generations of fuel-cell cars as research projects.


Hydrogen fuel cells combine oxygen coming into the car with onboard hydrogen to generate electricity, leaving nothing but heat and water vapor. Effectively, they are an electric car with the hydrogen fuel cell behaving like an active battery.

For the uninitiated, a push on the accelerator pedal tells the fuel-cell stack to force hydrogen from the tank onto an anode plate, where each hydrogen atom is broken into protons and electrons.

The protons migrate through polymer cell membranes to reach the positively charged cathode at the other end. There they react with oxygen (fan forced from the atmosphere into the stack), creating water vapor. The separated electrons, meanwhile, supply the car’s electricity.