CES

CES 2019: Autonomous transportation is a driving force — VIDEO

Updated January 9, 2019 - 11:38 pm

Yes, but can it flip the bird to the guy who just cut you off?

This was the burning question when checking out the boxy, silver, two-door ride promising to be your “eyes, ears and voice” while looking like one of the cars that Marty McFly hoverboarded alongside in “Back to the Future II.”

Said vehicle was the Hyundai Mobis, one of the dozens of driverless concept cars polished into mobile mirrors at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall at CES on Wednesday.

You can’t take the wheel in the thing, because there is no wheel to take — just a sleek, streamlined dashboard — which is one way the Mobis could reduce the number of road-rage incidents and extended middle fingers.

Another is to detect any angry glares.

“It recognizes your facial expressions, so if you’re angry, happy or sad, it changes the ambiance of the vehicle,” explained Stella Park, a spokesperson at the Mobis display. “It reads other drivers’ and passengers’ emotions as well, so if they are agitated or sleepy, the vehicle automatically detects it: ‘Be cautious around that vehicle.’ ”

The Mobis was among many examples of this kind of technology amid the (barely) controlled chaos of the North Hall, where the room buzzed like a TV on the fritz.

“It’s definitely a stimulus overload when you first walk in, but after you start ambling around a little bit, you start picking up on the overall themes that the manufacturers are trying to do,” said Hershil Patel of Philadelphia, who works in the decorative furnishing industry. “At first, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow, everything’s brand new and different and innovative, and then you start getting the impression that, ‘Oh, OK, everyone’s trying to sort of send the same message.’ ”

This message was one of autonomous modes of transportation.

Just about every car manufacturer you could name had some version of a driverless vehicle to dazzle onlookers with how they’ll ostensibly be getting to work in the years to come. (Mercedes had one as well, though you could still actually pilot its Silver Arrow, a “soundless” electric race car.)

So, what do you do during your daily commute if not brake-checking tailgaters? Well, you engage in a competitive rowing game with your fellow passengers, naturally.

At least this might be an option if you own a Hyundai, which had a series of driverless car cockpit simulators on hand, demonstrating what it could be like to kill time in one of the company’s rides someday.

Even mass transit will have driverless options, namely the massive black “self-flying air taxi” displayed by aircraft manufacturer Bell.

Sometimes, you want to take flight, but in the nearest lake as opposed to the sky.

Also, you want to do so inside a semi-submersible water vehicle designed to look like a killer whale — or dolphin or blue-and-green swordfish, as was the case at CES, where the Seabreacher was displayed.

“It’s like a roller coaster that goes underwater,” explained Rob Innes, general manager of Innespace Productions, which produces the craft. “It’s a thrill ride. We can porpoise in and out of the water like a dolphin.”

Whoa.

Amid all the brain-wringing innovations on hand, here was yet another one: turning “porpoise” into a verb.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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