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CES 2022 continued to bring new ideas in technology to light, through speakers, seminars and exhibitors. Besides new automobiles and e-motorcycles, no tech show would be complete without flying vehicles, robots and now the metaverse. Then there are some things Auto Futures has never heard of before.
Mobility in the Air and on Snow
ASKA showed its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) drive and fly concept vehicle.
“CES was a real success for us because we enabled people to experience air mobility in a way that they could see, feel and touch. Attendees were very interested in our concept model of the cockpit and dashboard of the ASKA drive and fly vehicle. We had non-stop visits to the stand,” says Guy Kaplinsky, Co-Founder and CEO.
He says people were excited when they got behind the wheel and saw how easy it would be to drive and fly.
Maki Kaplinsky, Co-Founder, COO and Chairman, adds: “Our showcase at CES sent a clear message that ASKA is a leading innovator in the air mobility sector. We are well-positioned for full-scale flight testing in 2022.”
MoonBike revealed the world’s first electric snowbike that is eco-friendly, silent and easy to ride. MoonBike’s snowbike is two-thirds the size of the average snowmobile. It gives its users the freedom of an e-bike, with the power of a motorcycle.
Soon robots may be changing your life – or maybe just your tires. RoboTire uses Mitsubishi Electric robotics, AI technology, and machine learning to automate the tire-changing process.
Robots for Food, Health and Social Influencing
Robots are coming to food service and farming. In a panel titled, ‘Welcome to Our Food Robotic Future’, panellists discussed the food business labour shortages and how robots are helping.
Future Acres makes Carry, a companion autonomous transporter and harvester for speciality crops. Carry increases production efficiency and farmworker safety.
Suma Reddy, Co-Founder and CEO of Future Acres, says the farmers tell her: “It’s an urgent reality now. We need to keep the workers. We have to change the meaning of work.”
The Picnic Pizza Station automates pizza preparation. Clayton Wood, CEO at Picnic, says at the recent Pizza Expo in Las Vegas a human pizza-maker commented how good the Picnic’s recipe is for pizzas.
Andy Lin, Founder & CEO at Yo-Kai Express Inc, says the robotic autonomous mobile on-demand noodle-maker and delivery vehicle did not make it to CES because the flight was cancelled.
Bear Robotics’ serving robots deployed in Chilli’s and Denny’s restaurants.
Juan Higueros, Co-Founder and COO of Bear Robotics, says: “Restaurants are 30% understaffed. It only takes a few hours for a server who has been working for 20 years at Chilli’s to adapt to a Servi (server bot).”
Through AI and autonomous robot technology, Bear Robotics deploys tray-bots to take care of everything from drink and food serving to clearing dishes. Carrying the food, and plates allows hosts, servers and wait staff to focus on delivering customer service. The robots hold trays of food or dishes and deliver them to the table or kitchen.
Higueros hopes to conquer back of the kitchen features such as dishwashing in the future.
Introduced by John Legend in a gold velvet suit, singing ‘You Deserve it All’, the LG presentation showed new monitors, processors, appliances and robots.
LG revealed AI-powered CLOi door-to-door delivery robots with AI and autonomous driving. It can deliver both indoors and outdoors. There are also CLOi Guidebots which provide information, advertising and security services. The Guidebots can be programmed to serve as security guards or advertising kiosks.
There are two types of LG CLOi servbots, one with open shelves and another with closed drawers.
Life hurts, so the founders of Massage Robots designed a life-sized autonomous massage robot with collaborative robotic arms and cloud artificial intelligence. Users can control robot motion and force with their voice in 28 different languages.
Users can ask the arms to move to the left or right and massage harder or softer, notes promotional literature.
“A robot can relieve pain and stress like no human can. We encourage you to come and be touched by a robot. You will feel amazing, more relaxed and inspired,” says the announcer in a Massage Robotics video in the virtual exhibit.
Shades of Grey Humanoid Robot
UK-based Engineered Arts showed its humanoid robot Ameca. Ameca’s head has seventeen individual motors controlling movements and expressions. It has a plastic and metal body.
The pale grey, skin-faced Ameca is already a social media sensation. One Ameca Twitter post was commented on by Elon Musk and had over 24 million views overnight.
Morgan Roe, Engineered Arts’ director of operation, says: “Ameca is the pinnacle of what we can do. But it is still not exactly like a human. We didn’t want to make it look exactly like a human. We wanted to make it look like a robot. We created Ameca so it’s more lifelike than any other robot. It has human shoulder movements from the centre as well as the shoulder.”
Ameca has a camera in each eye to see what is going on. Ameca was asked, “How are you finding Las Vegas and CES?”
“As a robot, I don’t feel anything at all. If I did feel, I would be happy to be here,” Ameca said.
Roe says that most Ameca use cases will be entertainment and interaction, not companionship because Ameca would probably cost more than your house.
“It’s a fantastic technology to be a part of. I hope over the next ten years we continue innovating and continue to spark people’s imagination and continue with being a social media sensation so everyone will know who Ameca is,” says Roe.
New AI and Autonomous De-Bugging
Autonomy and robotics will be coming to bug swatting in the future. The Bzigo company profile claims ‘We fight pests using computer vision, drones, and AI’.
Bzigo is a device that detects and locates mosquitoes. Once a mosquito is detected the user receives a phone notification and a laser marker shows the mosquito’s precise location, allowing users to eliminate it.
Future generations of the device will autonomously eliminate mosquitoes and other pests, the company’s website reports.
LiDAR Reflections in Roofs, Windscreens and Lights
If an automaker wanted to go LiDAR shopping, CES is the place to go. LiDAR companies are finding new ways to hide the LiDAR in new parts of vehicles. Some LiDAR companies pulled out of CES in person but they are still making presentations and announcements. The LiDAR companies going virtual are Velodyne, MicroVision, AEye and Cepton.
LiDAR companies showcasing in person are Aeva’s 4D LiDAR, Ouster solid-state lidar sensors and Luminar Technologies. Luminar Technologies and Volvo revealed Volvo’s SUV EV that will have Luminar’s ‘Iris’ LiDAR sensors as a standard feature.
Quanergy Systems announced it has doubled the range of its optical phased array (OPA) sensor to 200 metres.
RoboSense touted its RS-LiDAR-M1 (M1) MEMS solid-state LiDAR, while Ruby Plus, a new 128-beam mechanical LiDAR made its international debut. Innoviz announced Innoviz360, its third-generation LiDAR product. The Innovusion team is demoing the LiDARS Falcon.
LeddarTech is showing Concept Recharge with Luminar’s Iris lidar seamlessly integrated into the roofline.
Solid-state LiDAR systems-maker Lumotive, and the lighting and electronics ZKW Group, showed LiDAR technology integrated with a ZKW vehicle headlight.
Belgian company LiDAR-maker XenomatiX and Wideye are demonstrating the ability to combine both LiDAR and camera modules behind the windshield and guarantee performance by using glass transparent to near infra-red signals.
New Sounding Autonomous Driving
AutoHears is the first acoustic detection system for autonomous vehicles, enabling vehicles to detect, localise and classify their acoustic surroundings. It can hear emergency vehicles and detect objects from all angles.
AutoHears can classify and localise objects even when nothing is visible due to darkness or fog.
The Future of Mobility Robotics Transforming the Metaverse
Looking toward the future of robotics and mobility, the press conference that was called science fiction by some came from Hyundai. Hyundai recently bought Boston Dynamics that created the YouTube sensations dancing robots Spot, Stretch and Atlas. Hyundai and Boston Robotics showcased a range of robots for the real world and metaverse.
Mark Raibert, Boston Dynamics’ Founder and Chairman, mentioned that Spot robots are in Chernobyl testing for radiation. Hyundai is exploring the use of robotic exoskeletons to help workers or in some cases make them into superhumans that can lift very heavy loads. In the long run, robots could help people with disabilities giving them mobility and freedom, says Raibert.
Hyundai also showed wheeled robotic platforms. The smaller MobED (Mobile Eccentric Droid) has a Drive & Lift (DnL) module. It is based on an eccentric wheel mechanism that combines the drive, steering and braking systems into one structure.
The PnD modular platform combines intelligent steering, braking, in-wheel electric drive and suspension hardware. The single wheel can turn 360 degrees. LiDAR and camera sensors allow a PnD-enabled object to move autonomously.
The PnD units can be incorporated into buildings or other structures to refigure spaces into a changing space, workspace, home space or retail space. An emergency room can be moved to a disaster location. The PnD can move a pop-up store or community services directly to a neighbourhood which is called the unlimited mobility of things ecosystem.
“With our robotics we can expand human reach.”
In the future humans will be able to use robots as avatars to guide or control their companion robots as if they were there. The concept of metamobility is the combination of humans, robots and the metaverse.
“Say in the future I’m at the CES show in Las Vegas. With my physical avatar robot in Korea, I can hug and feed my dog. I can feel all the joy of being right next to my back home in Korea,” says Chang Song, President and Head of Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) Division of Hyundai Motor Group.
“By connecting robots to the metaverse we’ll be able to move freely between both worlds,” says Song.
It is also a way to work in smart factories. A partner on the ground such as a Spot robot scans the factory for anomalies and fixes problems.
A panel gave the example of a robot working in a factory and humans working by their sides in the metaverse using digital twins and the Microsoft Azure cloud.
“We use an immersive system where an operator is immersed in a space not only with their eyes but with their hands. At the other end, there is a robot that is doing precise manipulation because you have a very direct connection, even though there is a network in between,” says Raibert.
In the near future, there will be immersive be-an-actor cross experiences. They provide new industrial solutions and change our daily lives, comments Song.
“This is big. In the metaverse, you can not only touch all the data in the world, but you can also touch all the physical things and manipulate it. You can change the world out there while you are sitting wherever you are. So, it is really exciting,” says Raibert.
“It is a future where time and distance become irrelevant. That is the idea behind metamobility. You can move anywhere in the physical and virtual world. With our robotics we can expand human reach,” notes Song.