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What to Expect From Self-Driving and Automated Technology at CES 2022

What to Expect From Self-Driving and Automated Technology at CES

CES has long been the go-to event for autonomous vehicle (AV) stakeholders. Since GM debuted its EN-V concept at CES a decade ago, automakers have used the event for everything from unveiling AV technologies and concept vehicles, to announcing on-the-road target dates, and taking visitors outside for autonomous test rides on the streets of Las Vegas.

But although CES always features plenty of automotive technology, it’s a vast consumer electronics show, covering everything from domestic appliances to automotive, food production to healthcare, and from shipping to space technology.

After Covid-19 forced organizers to make CES 2021 an all-digital event, the world’s biggest tech show is aiming for a return in January 2022 with the current plan for a live event supported by a digital-only registration option for those unable to attend in person.

As ever, expect plenty of autonomous tech in Las Vegas in January. Here, we round up the latest developments in autonomous technology and robotics that will feature at CES 2022.

Lidar—Essential for autonomous driving

With many developers of safe self-driving systems putting “light detection and ranging” at the heart of their sensor suites, lidar is essential for autonomous driving.

Lidar is used to create a precise, three-dimensional representation of the vehicle’s surroundings. However, autonomous cars cannot rely on one sensor type alone, and lidar needs to be fully integrated into a self-driving system, typically to work in harmony with camera and radar. As this hot area of technology continues to evolve, it will expand the capabilities of self-driving vehicles. Expect terms like miniaturization, seamless integration, and 360-degree vision to feature in lidar technology exhibitors’ presentations at CES® 2022 —and for many years to come. 

Automation in agriculture

One of the areas of industry which looks set to benefit considerably from automation is agriculture—and one of the biggest manufacturers of agricultural equipment, John Deere, has been named a CES® 2022 Innovation Awards Best of Innovation honoree in both the Robotics and the Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation categories. Both awards were for its See & Spray technology, which uses computer vision and machine learning to detect and differentiate plants and weeds, and to target herbicide only at the weeds. 

Another CES® 2022 Innovation Awards honoree is Guss, whose Mini Guss is a compact version of the company’s autonomous vineyard and orchard sprayer that will be unveiled at the show. The 20-foot long vehicle is guided by GPS, lidar, and proprietary software to drive autonomously along vineyard rows, delivering pesticides from its 400-gallon tank.

Autonomous last-mile delivery

A thoroughly developed mobility solution is one that not only moves people seamlessly, but is also designed to move goods. Developing purpose-built autonomous vehicles for last-mile delivery is essential to meet the increasingly competitive curbside opportunity

Electric vehicle start-up, REE, will use its appearance at CES® 2022 to unveil its fully autonomous last-mile delivery concept. Based on REE’s modular EV platform, the company says the Leopard “is geared for customers including last-mile autonomous and electric delivery companies, delivery fleet operators, e-retailers and technology companies seeking to build fully autonomous solutions.”

Meanwhile, Udelv will unveil the Transporter, which the company says is “the world’s first cab-less electric delivery vehicle for multi-stop delivery.” The completely driverless cargo vehicle–there’s no cabin or driver controls–is capable of driving at highway speeds of up to 70mph, and carrying a payload of up to 2,000lbs for an 80-stop delivery run.

French company Lextan is taking a slightly different approach to automated cargo delivery vehicles. Its semi-autonomous AUTOPOD is operated by a remote human driver “in all complex situations of city traffic.” 

Whether they’re human-driven or autonomous, delivery vehicles need somewhere to pull over—so how about some parking space detection technology for autonomous vehicles? That’s just one of a handful of solutions that software developer StradVision will showcase at the event, as part of its AI and vision processing suite.

Automation in the home

“Hey robot, get me a drink.” Once the stuff of sci-fi, that drink-grabbing domestic robot is no longer far-fetched. We already have the highly advanced Roomba, which might not be able to get a drink from the fridge but can navigate its way around delicate furniture, and detect and avoid pet waste

But at CES, look out for a robot vacuum cleaner that can also sterilize the floor that it’s cleaning. The BV351AA Robot Vacuum Cleaner, made by BONA, a cleaning robot manufacturer, is a CES® 2022 Innovation Award honoree. The BV351AA, which uses AI visual recognition and time-of-flight lidar to navigate its surroundings, can raise its lidar sensors according to the environment in which it is operating, and sterilizes as it cleans using ultraviolet light.

The BV351AA might not look like something that could bring you a drink, but Ameca does. Ameca is an advanced humanoid robot, made by UK robotics company Engineered Arts, and it already looks keen to bring you a coffee, and then pack away the groceries. 

If that seems a little eccentric, then consider Hyundai Motor Group’s latest foray into robotics, the Mobile Eccentric Droid, or MobED. This highly versatile mobility platform is equipped with independent suspension, 12-inch pneumatic tires, and tilt and height adjust functionality, enabling it to go where most indoor service robots currently cannot. And it’s clever enough to be able to keep its payload platform stable, which makes the MobED’s customizable chassis ideal for conversion into a domestic service robot, a mobility device for elderly and disabled people, a last-mile delivery bot, or a high-tec baby stroller. And it looks like it could even deliver you a drink without spilling it.

Autonomous construction equipment

Construction sites are dangerous places, and construction is another industry keen to deploy autonomous technology to improve safety, increase productivity, and reduce project time. Construction work–especially excavation–involves heavy loads, and difficult, repetitive tasks, in often unsafe spaces. Crucially, it’s restricted not only by daylight and weather conditions, but also a severe labor shortage. At CES, Hyundai Construction Equipment and Hyundai Doosan Infracore will present their suite of ‘Smart Construction‘ solutions for “a safe and efficient future construction site.”

Autonomous racing

Perhaps the stand-out autonomous vehicle event at CES® 2022 is the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC), with the January 7th race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway scheduled deliberately to coincide with CES. 

The inaugural $1 million prize race took place in October, with the winning team–from Technische Universität München (TUM)–waved over the finish line by a Boston Dynamics robot dog; this, the second race in the series, will be the first to feature wheel-to-wheel fully autonomous racing.

On the subject of racing, CES® 2022 will also host the drone racing finale of the 2021-22 DRL Algorand World Championship Season. Although the 12 drones will be flown by the world’s top drone racing pilots, it surely won’t be long before there’s an autonomous drone racing challenge similar to the IAC.

Autonomous technology on the up

With so many industries and interests represented at CES, this overview of autonomous technology to watch out for at CES 2022 highlights just a few of the major announcements made ahead of the event. With so much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing is certain: The level of autonomous technology in every sector is increasing, and so too is the level of automation on display at CES.

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