This Funky Little Electric People Mover from Bosch Will Debut at the Consumer Electronics Show
Your high-tech toaster on wheels has arrivedby Jonathan Lopez, on
The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is just around the corner, and it comes as no surprise that the latest and greatest forward-thinking car concepts are just now trickling across our collective desks. The latest comes from Bosch, with this odd-looking all-electric, fully autonomous shuttle that promises big things for the future.
Is This The Future Of Transportation?
In case you were unaware, Bosch is a global engineering and electronics company based out of Stuttgart, Germany. It offers a variety of products for not just the automotive sphere, but also for air transportation, stadiums, hotel facilities, the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the mining industry.
Long story short, Bosch is enormous and has a ton of resources it can draw upon, which makes it well-positioned to create the innovative and all-inclusive transportation solution you find outlined here.
Indeed, Bosch hopes for nothing less than the integration of its various digital services into “every vehicle on the road” in the future. This also includes an “ecosystem of mobility services” to suit a variety of needs and users. However, one of the biggest and most visible innovations will be its proposed fleet of electrified shuttles to get people from A to B.
Created as a response to the rapid rise of ride sharing services, this new concept could very well replace Uber and Lyft in one fell swoop.
As such, the concept is primarily focused on function over form. And that’s pretty obvious just by looking at it - to my eyes, its got the aesthetic of a toaster on wheels, if I’m honest.
That minimalism in the design carried over to the interior as well, where we find a wide, open space filled with pristine white surfaces, lots of screens, and plenty of glass. The interior is designed to accommodate up to four passengers, and comes with a seating arrangement that orients customers face to face as a means to maximize comfort and the available legroom.
Bosch also points out that the platform could be adapted to suit other commercial needs and transport goods, not just people.
Back to the people mover.
Inside, you’ll notice an array of infotainment screens, which can be used for both individual and group use.
Or, as Bosch puts it, “a family can watch a movie together as they travel somewhere for the weekend, or colleagues can work on a presentation on their way to the office.”
What’s more, passengers can connect their smartphones to the onboard Wi-Fi and interface with the various infotainment systems directly from their personal devices. After arriving at their destination, customers can use Bosch’s proprietary e-payment service to pay for the trip.
Bosch goes even further, proposing an all-inclusive system that also bundles together “booking, sharing, and networking platforms, parking and charging services, and software solutions for managing and maintaining the vehicles, as well as infotainment during the journey.”
Potential customers will have 24/7 access to the ride service, with users downloading a smartphone app to identify their specified pick-up point and identify themselves as the intended passenger. The app can even reserve certain seats, if desired.
To make it go, the concept uses a fully-electric powertrain. Again, there’s no driver - this thing is 100 percent autonomous.
As such, the concept comes outlined with a full gamut of sensors to read the surrounding environment and successfully navigate through it, such as radar, video, and ultrasonic sensors.
The concept also connects using Bosch’s Convenience Charging service, which can identify when the vehicle needs to be plugged in, while also monitoring power drains like heating and air conditioning systems. The system also includes active monitoring of the current traffic conditions and weather forecasts, and will actively work to maximize efficiency around those ever-changing constraints.
Bosch also imagines an onboard camera system that checks to make sure a passenger doesn’t leave any personal items behind. If an item is left on the shuttle, the system will automatically send them a message to let them know as such. The same camera system can also identify when the shuttle needs to be cleaned.
Finally, over-the-air software updates keep the shuttle up to date with the latest patches, while a range of predictive tech can identify when the system needs some maintenance work. Bosch is also looking to implement route planning and administrative duties with the system.
Are Autonomous Electrified Shuttles A Good Idea?
Bosch cites Roland Berger with speculation that by 2020, roughly a million of these on-demand shuttle buses will hit the road in the U.S., Europe, and China.
That number could go as high as 2.5 million by 2025.
We think that seems pretty ambitious. While electric powertrains, interconnected systems, and autonomous technology are indeed all developing at an ever-increasing rate, there are still a number of hurdles to overcome.
We think the real linch pin has to be the autonomous tech - without it, none of this is possible.
While we do see some pretty impressive battery technology, electric drive technology, and information service technology already on the market, autonomous tech still has a long way to go before it can be trusted to navigate through a busy city environment without any human overseer checking in on it every so often.
Granted, testing is already underway, but in terms of large-scale implementation of a finalized system, I think we’re at least another five years away.
Not that I’m not hopeful. This sort of technology promises a heap of benefits, including a major reduction in congestion in major metropolitan areas, as well as a reduction in pollution and emissions. Then there’s the safety side of it as well - fewer drunk drivers, fewer tired drivers, and more.
Of course, no technology is without its drawbacks.
In this case, an over-reliance on connected services could cause some major disruptions if a critical system goes down, and the electricity grid would get taxed in a major way with so many new electric shuttles plugged into it. Then there’s the legal issues - who’s at fault if one of these shuttles crashes into another vehicle or even a pedestrian?
These are all questions we’ll need to answer in the next decade or sooner as companies race to become the next big thing in self-driving automotive technology.
Which begs the question - how do you feel about this technology, dear reader? Is it appealing, or appalling? Let us know in the comments section below.