Five seriously far-out car tech innovations to watch out for in 2020

From a flying uber to a car that drives itself, these were the most exciting car tech concepts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas...

Las Vegas hosted one of the most important car shows of 2020 this month: the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Technology takes priority, with cars redesigned to showcase the future of technology and the connected car. Here are the 5 coolest things we saw:

BMW i3 Urban Suite

Consumer Electronics Show

BMW i3 Urban Suite at CES 2020

BMW turned its i3 electric car into a chic work space. With the second rear seat stripped out, there was room for a wooden desk, softly lit by a little lamp, with the seat in front replaced by a large blue foot rest. It’s meant to give the “relaxed feel of a boutique hotel”. A fleet of these gorgeous little automotive suites acted as shuttles for show guests: visitors could hail one via a BMW app.

Hyundai and Uber

Consumer Electronics Show

Hyundai S-A1 at CES 2020

The two giant auto companies joined forces to unveil the S-A1 Personal Air vehicle (PAV), a small electric aircraft, which takes off and lands vertically, to access compact urban areas. Being electric, the flying vehicle is quiet, and is the first taste of a future air-based ride-hailing network that Uber and Hyundai envisage. At the moment it requires a pilot, but Hyundai claims in the future such aircraft will be autonomous, and will be hailed via an Uber app.

Mercedes

Consumer Electronics Show

Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR at CES 2020

Mercedes teamed up with the brains behind the Avatar films to create the vision Advance Vehicle Transformation (AVTR) concept. Mercedes says it “embodies…the vision for mobility in the distant future”. The most important part of the concept is its battery which, Merc claims, is 100 per cent compostable; it’s based on “graphene-based organic cell chemistry”, which is a pub-quizz fact if ever there was one. Current lithium, nickel and cobalt based battery cells are the most problematic element of electric vehicles for the entire industry, as the raw materials are found in politically unstable countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and are highly polluting.

The AVTR is also able to move sideways, in a crab movement, to maximise small urban spaces.

Audi A1:ME

Consumer Electronics Show

Audi A1:ME at CES 2020

Audi’s concept car featured a humungous curved screen the full width of the car, instead of a dash, with eye control. This allowed journalists to conduct the important test of ordering a burger from a restaurant menu (the idea being that the car will know restaurants you like to visit, and present you with menus en route) with eye movements only and then, obviously, eating it at the end of the test drive.

The concept previews a small, electric, autonomous car which is the same size as BMW’s i3.

Honda

Consumer Electronics Show

Honda Augmented Driving Concept at CES 2020

The crazy Augmented Driving Concept featured just a solitary single wheel that acts as accelerator and brake, too. It can drive itself, or the bored passenger can take back control: the choice is theirs. The four-seat convertible looked a lot like the Honda E, a retro electric car about to go on sale this year.

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