LG looks to autonomous transport future with tech-packed Omnipod
The way we move from A to B in cities and beyond is changing. We're not only seeing automakers commit to an electric future, but also investing in autonomous driving technologies. Electronics giant LG wants in, and is working on a mobile home office or entertainment lounge called the Omnipod.
LG's vision for an autonomous mobility future made its debut at CES 2022 and is being shown off in the flesh at this week's IEEE International Conference on Communications in Seoul, South Korea.
Externally, it has a similar blocky look to autonomous pods like the e-Palette, SC-1 and Zoox, and is envisioned as a modular extension to the home that will "serve as practically any kind of space, from an office or recording studio to a video-editing workroom or even a lounge."
The first thing you'll notice as the single side door lifts up to invite you inside is a portrait-oriented floor-to-ceiling tunnel display – or "Meta-environment Screen" as LG calls it – on the opposite wall. This will host a lifesize AI assistant/avatar called Reah, which will see to your every need.
As passengers enter, the vehicle bathes them in a stream of ionized air "to carry away dust and germs." The Omnipod is home to a LG Styler closet too, which also makes use of ionizing technology to freshen up any clothing (such as a jacket or business suit) and footwear placed within.
Passenger seating in the concept is a mix of comfy sofa-style benches and swivel chairs, and the digital assistant will adjust the vehicle's numerous displays to suit a given purpose – offering a dashboard to show essential information such as schedules and the weather, for example, or providing mid-height monitors so that occupants can get to work or creating a full-size cinematic entertainment environment for immersive viewing.
The multimedia screens can be merged into expansive digital walls, or completely switched off and the cabin lights dimmed so the occupants can lie back for a quick snooze. Internal sensors and a thermal camera can even monitor a user's sleep quality, heart rate and body temperature.
Should you feel peckish while the autonomous Omnipod rolls along, there's a two-drawer cooler unit near the door for chilled refreshments, which is topped by an induction cooktop for hot meal prep. The cabin features a monitoring system that can adjust temperature and lighting automatically for passenger comfort, and though there's no mention of integrated audio systems, given the company's form in such things users could likely expect a sound system with decent wallop.
When the cabin has been vacated, the digital assistant can switch on UV lighting and set robot vacuum cleaners to work and make sure the space is spick and span for the user's return.
LG sees the Omnipod as being capable of full autonomy, with flush exterior sensors and vision cameras keeping watch on what's happening around the vehicle, though a driving mode is included for folks who prefer to take control.
Those external cameras can live feed into the cabin's displays if desired, and a real-time digital map created by LG's R&D lab and HERE Technologies can be routed to a multimedia screen.
Of course, this is a connected vehicle which will likely make use of 6G or some future mobile communications technology by the time it hits the road. However, this is very much a concept to show off LG's technologies and its vision for upcoming autonomous transport for our increasingly connected lifestyles, and the company hasn't indicated any potential production plans.