In January 2019, the Consumer Electronics Show kicked off in Las Vegas, Nevada. And it seems mechanical engineering, propped up by artificial intelligence, is the talk of the town.

Mercedes-Benz rolled their latest marvel of mechanical engineering out on the floor, touting some impressive artificially intelligent add-ons. The car’s name is the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe, and the AI software is called MBUX (Mercedes-Benz user experience).

The company’s presentation kicked off calling the CLA ‘The most bling-bling gadget’ at the expo. You can even talk to the car by calling out the words, “Hey Mercedes,” and follow it up with a command you want the car to perform - like rolling up the windows. It also has hand gesture recognition.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

There are also semi-autonomous features that help the car drive; further propelling the car industry into a self-driving future. Moving to an artificially intelligent car, empowered by software, is a watershed moment for automobile engineering - it shows that car companies are becoming far more multifaceted.

It also signals an interdisciplinary move in the automobile industry, bringing many engineering industries into one. But, the Head of Group R&D at Mercedes-Benz, Ola Kallenius, says the company itself is also changing the way it operates as a company. Speaking at CES 2019, he said:

“Speaking of the future, we show very clearly where the technologies of our company are heading. Our vehicles are now platforms of digital progress and we operate as a software company with more flexibility and adaptiveness, with agility to do developments and customer requirements [faster]. Our goal is to build trailblazing mobile devices that enhance our customers’ lives.”

The car can also integrate with wearables. The smartwatch informs the car how its driver is feeling. Consequently, the car can then offer massages and hotter or cooler seats. Using the heart rate monitor will also fill the car in on how stressed the driver is. The MBUX system was designed in conjunction with Nvidia. This further highlights how engineering industries that may have previously existed independently, now regularly collaborate to create new products in the future.

 

Real Robots

Humanoid robots seemed to attract the most journalistic cynicism at the CES event this year. Purportedly the robots at the 2019 expo were a little disappointing; lacking the expected sophistication or improvement when compared with the 2018 expo. It seems that consumer robots are still a bit too clunky to be considered ready-for-market.

The online publication, The Verge, believes that the delivery robots were the most impressive and with the most future-proof uses - namely, delivering items or food to the consumer.

Pudutech had a robot rolling around the CES floor named the HOLABOT. It is equipped with AI speech and face recognition functionality and is specifically designed to deliver food to a customer inside a restaurant. Pudutech is the company looking to be the leader in delivery robots and self-driving low-speed robots.  And their multi-robot deployment system will help - it enables one hundred HOLABOTs to work at the same time.

The robots that were highly regarded at CES 2019 may indicate which ones will see huge corporate and consumer uptake (the first cousins of robots like the Roomba vacuum cleaner).

 

 

Works Cited

Eisenstein, Paul A. “Mercedes' New CLA Coupe Loaded with High-Tech Extras in Clear Pitch to Millennial Luxury Buyers.” CNBC, CNBC, 9 Jan. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/01/09/mercedes-cla-coupe-loaded-with-high-tech-extras-to-lure-millennials.html.

Vincent, James. “The Five Types of Robots You Meet at CES.” The Verge, The Verge, 9 Jan. 2019, www.theverge.com/2019/1/9/18175168/ces-2019-robots-best-worst-delivery-butler-tablet.

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