New Mobility Directions & Models at #CES2017

Vehicles are increasingly becoming consumer electronic items, as evidenced by the number of companies and booths at International CES 2017 that were dedicated to creating the next great ride. The embedded electronics allow even the most utilitarian vehicle to become an extension of its rider.

Of course, there was the 21st century version of the muscle car, from Faraday Future and many others, that hearkens back to an earlier time when the open road and the freedom of driving were the dream of many.

But, it is no longer about muscle, as vehicles of all levels are becoming intelligent. Whether this means an improved Human-Machine interface or an operating system embedded with and connected to Artificial Intelligence that allows the car to think and act without the aid of a human, mobility is changing, and changing fast.  And the latest features aren’t just the latest gee-whiz, as safety was a recurring theme throughout the exhibits.

Yes, it truly is about mobility, as both traditional, as well as upstart companies are looking at different business models for providing solutions.  There are entire operating systems being developed to enable new models such as ride-share and autonomous operation of fleets of vehicles. The new models might also include the less obvious, like personalized health advice or location-based advertising, which, of course, will have far reaching privacy implications.

The advent of various technologies, from the brushless in-wheel motor to carbon-fiber components to long-lasting batteries, is allowing virtually any entity to, almost over-night, become a “vehicle company”.  Batteries may not even be an issue, if Atmo fulfills its promise that it will be able to change vehicle battery packs in as little 30 seconds.

The traditional car companies and even many of the upstarts envision an evolution of the current steering-wheel paradigm, whereas at least one start-up sees the opportunity to ditch the human driver and create living spaces within vehicles. That this company, and so many more, can come up with mobility solutions in such a short-time is evidence of a shift in the auto industry from the Detroit-centric transportation era to more of a software-oriented Silicon Valley approach that is potentially much more human-centric.

Stay tuned over the coming months for ViodiTV interviews with many of the players from CES who are driving the changes in the mobility business.

CES Summary coverage brought to you by Calix.

9 responses to “New Mobility Directions & Models at #CES2017”

  1. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    Expect to see follow up interviews with some of the companies and people shown in the above video, including AImotive, Alain Kornhauser, Atmo, Eli, Ford, Honda, Leti, Ojo, Pioneer, Reva2, Uisee and Vulog.

  2. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    The above video alludes to the protection of the rider’s metadata. It is clear that auto executives feel that data is going to be an important revenue stream in the era of connected and autonomous vehicles:

  3. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    and lawmakers are already looking at how they can protection individual’s metadata

  4. Steve Landau Avatar
    Steve Landau

    There’s no doubt that innovation and technology will enable new transportation modes and likely improve existing models. However, broad adoption, even in urban environments will require legal and social changes and it would be great to read more about what’s happening in this area that will allow us to realize the benefits of innovation. For comparison, the effort required to get new medical instrumentation or procedures approved is tremendous, and some would say too long, but in a litigious society great care will have to be taken to get autonomous vehicles ‘right’. Of course this is well known by the auto and technology industries but discussed far less frequently. The problems may not even be extreme. For example, as our population ages, how will someone in a wheelchair or with crutches that needs assistance utilize an autonomous vehicle? It seems unlikely that human staffed transportation companies can survive on just providing trips for those with additional needs.

  5. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    Thanks Steve for the comment. Those are good points and look for some follow-up interviews. The oft-quoted, law professor and transportation expert, Bryant Walker Smith has a guide that he created for cities and other jurisdictions to use when planning for the transition, which is summarized here:

    Regarding accessibility, I think these technologies promise more freedom for those with limitations than the current options. This is evidenced by the blind guy in Austin who has been ferried around by one Google’s cars (alone, I believe). One of the things that seems to be more common is the automated doors (like the one on the Honda demo car or the “living room car” from Uisee, both shown in the above video).

    It’s not too hard to imagine ramps automatically deploying to allow motorized scooters to load onto the platform. It’s not too hard to imagine multi-purpose vehicles that could be used for transporting people and/or cargo (where ramps might be convenient for unloading autonomous delivery pods, like the Starship Technology pods, also shown in the above video).

    Of course, this might not even be needed, if the Exoskeletons shown at the Hyundai booth (a glimpse is shown in the above video) truly let anyone walk.

    The other factor is the speed. The 25 MPH or less vehicles, such as the aforementioned Uiseee vehicle, do not require the NHSTA testing and safety features (e.g. airbags) required of high-speed cars. In urban areas, where the average speed may not be much more than 25 MPH, this could start to provide an alternative….particularly, when we the capital cost is 1/10 of a traditional bus and with a much lower operational cost because there is no driver….

    And that may be the most biggest road block is the elimination of the driver. Public service unions will probably fight this for obvious reasons and will probably try to put up road blocks to private entities trying to provide autonomous ride-share services, if it means unemployment for their drivers. Maybe part of a near-term solution would be redeployment of traditional drivers to the accessible autonomous vehicles referenced above.

    My bigger long-term concerns about what I saw at CES and is somewhat captured in this video are:

    1) That the number of new jobs created from the destruction matches the pace of job destruction in this AI-fueled transformation.
    2) What will humans do in a post-work society (the old saying about idle hands being the Devil’s workshop)?
    3) How is the economy organized in a post-work society? Do the rules change when machines are the workers?

  6. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    and a report on the impact to insurance

  7. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    Ark Invest, a financial research company, which is much more optimistic than my guess a few years ago in a story I wrote about 2040 being the magic year.

    “ARK expects autonomous taxi services to be commercially available in 2019. By the late 2020s, autonomous taxis should be the dominant form of door-to-door mobility.”

    They are predicting $0.35 per mile operational cost, which would mean a 5 mile ride would cost $1.75 – the same price as VTA, which costs about 7 or 8x that amount.

    As such, Ark is predicting this will be hugely disruptive and a huge new market:

    “ARK believes that investors may be undervaluing mobility-as-a-service severely today, and that in 5 years autonomous taxi networks could command a market capitalization of roughly $4 trillion. In comparison, the global automotive manufacturing industry probably will be roughly one third of that size. ARK expects autonomous mobility services alone will expand the total value of the $70 trillion equity market by 10%, as examined in this research report.”

    Here is the link to download the report:

  8. Ken Pyle Avatar
    Ken Pyle

    And Bryant Walker Smith outlines a couple of interesting bills from Georgia and Virginia regarding driverless cars and sidewalk delivery robots. The Georgia bill apparently suggests that the manufacturer is the driver from a liability standpoint:

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