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3 Ways Technology Brings Sci-Fi to Life at CES 2020

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect an official ANSYS stance or any related corporate agreements, incentives or decisions.

A display at CES with the show's logo. Image taken at CES 2020 by ANSYS personnel.

CES 2020 showcased the newest of technology. This year, the show’s Las Vegas venues were all abuzz with:

Walking the halls and viewing the applications of these technologies up close, I got a real sense that the future depicted in science fiction has become reality.

How Electrification Affects the Automotive Industry

One of the most impressive vehicles I saw at CES 2020 was the Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR. Though it reminded me of the four-wheeled Light Runner from Tron: Legacy, the concept car was actually inspired by the creatures from James Cameron’s Avatar.

The Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR is an electric vehicle that is inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar. Image taken at CES 2020 by ANSYS personnel.

The engineers who designed VISION AVTR took the themes of Cameron’s film to heart. For instance, similar to Avatar’s conservationist message (via the unobtanium McGuffin), the car includes a unique graphene-based organic cell chemistry battery. Unlike traditional batteries, this one eliminates the need for rare, toxic and expensive metals.

Mercedes-Benz notes that this battery is fossil fuel-independent and compostable. But this battery isn’t just green, it’s practical: It has a charge time of 15 minutes and a range of 700 kilometers (435 miles).

The vehicle has four near-wheel-built electric motors, which have a combined power of 350 kW. Each wheel can be optimized for a particular driving situation. In fact, the vehicle once again draws inspiration from Avatar by mimicking the movement of animals. The independent control of each wheel enables the car to move sidewise, like a crab, by about 30 degrees.

To learn more about electric cars, read: What is Emobility and How Do Engineers Design Electronic Cars?

How 5G, AI and Electrification Affect the Aviation Industry

Vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) air taxis were a big part of CES 2020. When I looked at them, I couldn’t help but think of the aerial helicopters from the Terminator franchise.

Catching my eye was the Bell Nexus 4EX, which aims to kick-start urban air mobility (UAM).

The Bell Nexus 4EX from Bell Textron Inc. Image taken at CES 2020 by ANSYS personnel.

City dwellers have started to expect an hour or so commute to and from work. But, with VTOL aircraft, travel time could be cut to minutes. The vertical takeoff is key: It enables pilots and travelers to enter the skyways without a runway.

VTOL air taxis aren’t limited to passenger travel: They can be used by/for:

  • First responders
  • Parcel deliveries
  • News broadcasts
  • Military operations

The Bell Nexus 4EX achieves takeoff and landing with either an electric- or hybrid-powered four-duct engine configuration. The hybrid platform offers users the chance to travel long distances while the fully electric aircraft offers efficient and clean air travel.

The next step in UAM deployment will be to connect VTOL aircraft to AI and 5G networks. This will enable autonomous flight. To learn more, read: Self-Flying Planes Are Here: Autonomous Aircraft Are the Future.

How 5G and AI Affect the Consumer Products Industry

ChuangChuang the robot. Image taken at CES 2020 by ANSYS personnel.

I think the Chuangze Intelligent robot, ChuangChuang, could be the prototype of Baymax from Disney’s Big Hero 6.

Like Baymax, the robot can deliver education, healthcare and caregiving. It can be a big help as an at-home aide or an assistant in the healthcare industry.

ChuangChuang is based on AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms that are supported by the computational power of the cloud.

The resulting added bandwidth delivered by 5G connectivity can theoretically enable it to travel with a human companion from place to place.

To learn how 5G technology will help implement technologies like ChuangChuang, read: Understanding 5G Infrastructure.

To learn about how ANSYS participated in CES 2020, click here.

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