Before coming back down to Earth with the start of this week's North American International Auto Show, the mobility industry spent some time up in the bright, blue sky at CES 2019. Forget cars ready to drive home off the lot, CES was focused on vehicles, ecosystems and technologies built to shift paradigms and solve emerging transportation issues for future generations. And more often than not, those vehicles, ecosystems and technologies were pretty damn cool.
The production vehicles and concepts of CES spanned all of Earth's major transportation channels: air, land and water.
Land vehicles were of course the most well-represented at CES, and our favorite was the Hyundai Elevate walking car. Hyundai took a risk by jumping beyond the modular self-drivers, advanced human-machine interfaces and electric SUVs, showing the vision of a truly unique walking car that could help emergency service workers power over near-impassable terrain. Instead of a simple set of axles and wheels, it uses motored wheels attached to robotic legs to roll, step, walk and climb, showing that four-leg drive vehicles could easily surpass four-wheel drive vehicles as the ultimate in go-anywhere transportation.
Unfortunately, Hyundai didn't have a full-size Elevate concept to reveal, and we didn't even see the scale prototype at the show. So if we're only picking from land vehicles we saw in person, we'd probably have to give the nod to the modular robotic vehicle concept shown by Japanese startup AEV Mobility. It catches the eye with its dual-sliding doors, but the real story is the 4WD robotic skateboard chassis capable of supporting a variety of utility pods, from ride-sharing taxi pods, to medical rescue pods, to industrial logistics pods.
Narrowing down our choice among sea vehicles was much easier than with land vehicles, partly because there was a more limited number of water vessels on show and partly because one of those vessels was very much the largest and most impressive: the Furrion Adonis. This smart yacht showcases an Alexa-like personal assistant system designed for luxury travel, seamlessly delivering news, travel updates and onboard assistance at a simple voice command ... or even by simply recognizing your face and taking it from there. The system is all "sea" for now, but Furrion reckons that it could easily be adapted to other segments, including motorhomes and houses.
With the exception of maybe the Adonis yacht, the Bell Nexus concept was the most impressive, eye-grabbing vehicle of the entire CES show. The air taxi concept uses its six tilting, hybrid-powered rotors to take off and land vertically before and after swooping efficiently through the air. Although it remains years away from actually carrying passengers from A to B, the full-size Nexus model is quite a sight to behold.
The other vehicles follow the "land, sea and air" classifications, but that's about all they have in common with the ones above. Jump to the gallery to see everything from joystick-controlled car cockpits, to ultra-luxury expanding camping trailers, to six-figure smart bicycles.
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