GM shows off a self-driving air taxi and an autonomous shuttle at the CES 2021
Were you even expecting anything different?
Expecting flying taxis at modern-day technological conventions is a lot like expecting Santa on Christmas. The myths, legends and in tech terms, renders, will be shared and discussed by people at large but the probability of it coming to life remains uncertain.
The latest entrant to showcase its futuristic ambitions was American carmaker General Motors. Exhibiting a pair of creations that weren’t exactly cars, GM joins the larger bandwagon of companies that believe the future of transportation revolves around flying cabs and autonomous shuttles. And it got a new logo which resembles a lot like an Adobe app icon, but GM claims it was done to denote their devotion to the electric future.
Switching from comfortable road cruisers to luxurious sky-charters, sister company Cadillac is literally reaching for the skies. Its latest creation, still in render phase, doesn’t have a name for itself but it does have an objective - transporting a singular passenger to the desired destination (within the urban boundary) via air and autonomously.
GM remained tight-lipped on sharing any significant details regarding its latest foray to aerial transportation, but it did mention the eVOTL to be equipped with all-electric propulsion (most probably utilising GM’s home-grown Ultium motors and batteries) capable of travelling at speeds of up to 56mph.
From the looks of it, it gets four rotors on each side of the craft and the usual vertical-stretching light bars as seen in modern-day Cadillac cars. Being a VTOL, it will be capable of vertical take-off and landing, which means rooftops across the urban setup will serve as pickup and drop-off spots for it and its customers. With several carmakers teaming up with ride-sharing companies to kickstart aerial mobility projects such as Hyundai and Uber, this seems like GM’s way to announce its arrival on the scene.
It appears autonomous shuttles have conventionally adopted the toaster on wheels design and Cadillac’s version isn’t any different. Though it does get fancy doors to distinguish itself, it isn’t the only trick up its sleeve. For instance, this Personal Autonomous Vehicle Concept (PAV Concept) also has sensors that read the vital signs of every passenger that enters and adjusts the temperature and lighting and even humidity accordingly.
While some autonomous vehicles urge you to look out to the outside world by featuring length-spanning windows, Cadillac’s approach is the exact opposite. Only the roof and the front and rear windshield let you see out while the slim viewing area down the sides propels you to have a chat with your co-passengers if the wrap around bench-seats didn’t incite the extrovert in you already. There’s even a camera inside to capture a moment with your travel buddies and share the same on social media.
No word on what powers this futuristic urban cab but its definitely electric. There are no visible physical controls for the same, but GM claims an onboard AI system operates the shuttle. Hence, requesting alterations within the shuttle such as climate control or dimming the lights and even changes to the journey route can be done via AI-controlled voice recognition system or hand gestures.
Both these vehicles are at the concept stage with no word on when or if it’ll go for production.