Hyundai Announces "Project IONIQ" Lab and 12 Future Megatrends
What does the future hold? Hyundai makes an educated guessby Jonathan Lopez, on
These days, it seems like everyone is gazing into their crystal ball to try and sort out what the car industry will look like in the not-so-distant future. Hyundai is certainly no exception, but rather than churning out some rendering or one-off concept, the Korean automaker has announced the creation of Project IONIQ Lab, a collection of top academics tasked with exploring the future of mobility. Hyundai first announced Project IONIQ at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, framing it as a long-term R&D venture to help the brand innovate and generate new technologies, and now, Project IONIQ’s recently revealed Lab division has disclosed 12 “megatrends” that have the potential to transform the car industry in the next 15 years.
The Project IONIQ Lab is made up of 20 researchers and consultant experts, and is led by Dr. Soon Jong Lee, professor at the Seoul National University and head of the Future Design & Research Institute.
The Lab will focus its efforts in four primary areas: “freedom to use mobility whenever and wherever,” “freedom to connect to everyday life while on the move,” “freedom from accidents and inconveniences,” and “freedom from environmental pollution and energy exhaustion.”
So then – what exactly are these 12 megatrends, but what do they have to do with cars? We’ll give you the rundown on each, plus our take on what they really mean.
Continue reading for the full story.
The Lab’s first megatrend deals with the transmission of information, specifically the amount of information, the different types of information, and how quickly the information is transmitted. In essence, the Lab foresees a future wherein individuals are instantly connected to everything around them, all the time.
This includes mobility applications, also known as V2X, or “vehicle-to-everything” communication. V2X incorporates all kinds of interesting functions, such as V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure), V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian), V2D (vehicle-to-device), and V2G (vehicle-to-grid).
Here’s an example of each:
V2I: your car communicates with the traffic lights at an intersection for better safety and higher efficiency
V2V: your car communicates with vehicles further ahead on the freeway to notify you to slow for an accident
V2P: your car alerts you to an inattentive pedestrian stepping into traffic
V2D: an app allows you to remotely start your car and set the climate control
V2G: your EV communicates with the electric grid to supply power during peak hours
Many of these technologies are already coming into focus, in particular V2D. Most are geared towards safety and convenience, but greater energy efficiency also plays a major role. One of the issues is the integration of older vehicles into the V2X system, as the major benefits will only manifest once all the cars on the road are taking part. However, once that tipping point is reached, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without it.
Thanks to medical advances, people are living longer. According to the Lab, by 2030 at least 21 percent of the population in most developed countries will be 65 years or older. As such, mobility will need to adapt to help older folks stay active and lead meaningful lives, and will incorporate advances in ride sharing, ride hailing, in-car services, and even wearable robots.
As you get older, you tend to lose your independence. As the body fails, even the simplest of tasks must be handed off to someone else, which can significantly degrade the quality of life. Technology has the ability to counter this.
For example, Grandma won’t be able to drive, but she’ll still be able to get to the store and her doctor’s appointment by calling a car on her phone. If she needs a hand climbing onboard, a car with a built-in lift can be specified.
Like it or not, the push for alternative sources of energy will only grow over time. The Lab predicts ever-increasing regulations, and as a result, infrastructural efficiency will become a major issue. Coinciding with this will be the utilization of renewables and low-consumption vehicles, including in the realm of manufacturing.
In a post-Dieselgate world, it seems as though all the major automakers are lining up to offer more eco-friendly products, but overall, a lot of it has just been lip service. That’s probably because most of the pressure is coming from just a handful of consumers. However, once government starts to get a little heavier handed, the changes should come much quicker.
Industries once relegated to a defined space are quickly expanding to merge with other industries, creating a mash-up of “value chains” that are improved upon thanks to the specialties that exist outside the original, individual industry. The Lab sees advances in communications technologies and mixed reality (the merger of the real and virtual worlds, a related facet of augmented reality) paving the way to new opportunities in business and user experiences.
This one’s a little complicated, but think of it like this – rather than creating an infotainment system from scratch, a car company can turn to the mobile world to make a better system. And thanks to pressures that are unique to the car world (hands-free operation, interface simplification), the mobile companies can infuse their products with further improvements.
Now take that mash-up further. Imagine how the car industry can expand beyond cars – maybe it includes a scooter to get you from your parking spot to your office. Maybe it includes entertainment on par with a concert hall.
Context-Awareness based Individualization
There are all kinds of sensors out there that are capable of “reading” an individual and put a slice of time into context. The Lab foresees a future wherein an AI will be able to process that information and compute an appropriate in-car action.
Let’s say you and your friends are on your way to a concert, and you want to listen to some music to keep the vibe going. Rather than searching for the appropriate song, context-awareness based individualization will be able to identify the general mood and destination and put on the perfect soundtrack, all without any input from the users.
High Concept Society
As innovations like 3D printing and open source information overturn barriers to manufacturing, the consumer will be empowered to create his or her own idealized product, giving rise to the private manufacturing market.
Don’t like the fascia on the new 3 Series? Design a new one. Want some different wheels for the summer? Draft them up and print them out. These are the sort of things that are possible when car manufacturing is no longer relegated to the whims of enormous corporations.
Decentralization of Power
With the advent of information technologies, small groups of people once consigned to the fringes of society are given the power to make their desires known, and as a result, the established power structure is starting to become distorted. This inevitably leads to diversification, and convergence and cooperation will be considered the “core values that guide the following industrial age.”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, especially when you’ve got the Internet. This is why I’m not afraid of fully autonomous vehicles taking away my right to drive. I know there are plenty of folks out there who have the same interests as I do, and that’s not going away. Driverless is a great idea, but it’s gonna have to include folks like you and me.
Anxiety and Chaos
With technological progression comes new anxieties and chaos, including “cyber terrorism/crime, class polarization, techno-stress, and generational conflict,” to name just a few. Mobility solutions have the ability to lessen some of these new pressures as a “healing medium.”
You know that feeling when you finally get home after a long day of work, when you can finally kick back for a moment and just relax? Now, what if you got that feeling as soon as you entered your car? For the moment, the drive home from work is a battle, just another part of the commuting cycle. That could very well change in the future.
The sharing economy is expanding, and cars are taking part. Efficiency is valued over status, and on-demand services are creating greater convenience. According to the Lab, “A mutually beneficial sharing foundation that is capable of advancing common interest must be laid.”
Remember when you heard all those complaints that the Millennial Generation “just wasn’t interested in cars”? Well, the industry mouthpieces were wrong. Millennials are just as interested in cars as any other generation. The problem is they can’t afford them. New ownership models of the sharing economy will change that – permanently.
Advances in AI will start to blur the line between humans and robots. This will affect mobility to a huge degree, with driverless vehicles required to establish its own “value systems.” Conversely, humanity will need to keep the robots in check through assurances of “safety, efficiency, and control.”
Here’s one moral dilemma surrounding driverless cars that may not have a solution – let’s say there’s a bus barreling down the wrong lane of traffic, while on the sidewalk there’s a group of kids walking home from school. In this situation, a driverless car will have to make a decision that many folks think only a human should make: should you stay the course and hit the bus, or veer onto the sidewalk?
The Lab cites a prediction from the UN saying that 70 percent of the world’s population will live in an urban area by 2030, substantially affecting housing and population density. In order to thrive, mobility solutions will need to adapt to this increasingly complex environment.
This is where autonomous vehicles will truly start to take off. Getting around the mega-city of the future will require nano-second reflexes and intense information immersion, and if it’s left up to the easily distractible human brain, stagnation will be the result.
Overpopulation will usher in a new period of exploration, with the frontiers of space, sky, underwater, and underground opening up for human integration. As such, mobility will need to adapt to these new environments.
Levitating cars? Submersible vehicles? Underground race tracks?
Count us in.