Mercedes-Benz’s ‘living’ car, Hyundai’s flying taxi among top auto debuts at CES

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  • The CES technology conference in Las Vegas has become a place for automakers, suppliers and tech companies to showcase their newest technologies.
  • Several automakers this year unveiled concept vehicles to showcase their new technologies.
  • Among the biggest surprises were a concept car from Sony, a flying taxi from Hyundai and an out-of-this-world concept vehicle from Mercedes-Benz.

Sony produced a car, Mercedes-Benz unveiled an out-of-this-world concept vehicle, and Uber teamed up with Hyundai to showcase their visions for a flying taxi.

These were among the top automotive announcements this week from the CES technology conference in Las Vegas. The event has increasingly become a place for automakers, suppliers and tech companies to showcase their newest technologies and automotive chops.

Here’s a look at five of the most interesting automotive-related announcements to come from CES. Sony surprised the show by unveiling an all-electric concept car called the Vision S as part of the company’s plan to accelerate its efforts in the automotive industry.

The Tesla-like vehicle, according to Sony, is meant to showcase the company’s new sensor, audio, and in-car entertainment technologies.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that mobile has been the megatrend of the last decade. I believe the next megatrend will be mobility as vehicles become more connected, autonomous shared and electric in the coming years,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, president, and CEO of Sony, during the Monday night unveiling of the car.

Sony produced the Vision S with several automotive partners such as Continental, Bosch, and Magna, among others. The vehicle features an array of screens, including one that stretches the length of the dashboard, to showcase their entertainment content as well as Sony’s “360 Reality Audio” system. The vehicle also includes 33 sensors placed around and within the sedan to demonstrate Sony’s potential for emerging semi-autonomous and self-driving vehicles.

Despite Sony having no plans to produce the vehicle, Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Navigant, said it was a good way for the company to showcase its latest automotive offerings.

“It got Sony a lot of attention, which is part of the reason for being there,” he said. “I think it was a reasonable investment for them to do that and use it as a platform to show off stuff that they make that goes into cars.”
Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR
Mercedes-Benz took inspiration from another world to design its most recent all-electric concept car, the Vision AVTR.

The show car was inspired by the 2009 film “Avatar” and created in partnership with a team that worked on the movie to showcase the German automaker’s design and tech capabilities.

“Show cars are here to spark our imagination of the possible just like science fiction movies do,” said Ola Kallenius, chairman of the Daimler AG board and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, during the unveiling of the vehicle. “This car showcases new ideas for communication.”

Mercedes-Benz described the car as a “living creature” that can interact with passengers as well as the outside world. Most notably, the vehicle features 33 “bionic flaps” on the back of the vehicle designed to communicate “through naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures” like some amphibians.
On the inside, the car also features a “completely new” way for passengers to interact with the vehicle that can be operated with hand gestures and biometrics, able to recognize the driver by his or her heartbeat and breathing.

In addition to playing off the movie’s title, Mercedes-Benz said AVTR also stands for “advanced vehicle transformation.”

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