Hyundai will be at CES with both transportation-related robots and a pitch for the future of the metaverse. As intriguing as the metaverse sounds, we’ll stick to the objects that move in the real world, because this is Autoblog, after all.
The first pod that moves people – there are two – Hyundai refers to a mother shuttle. Those are the oversized pods you see on the street in the photo at the top of this post. Their use case can be seen quite clearly in the photo. It is essentially a large pod designed to hold other smaller pods and transport them to their shared destinations.
If you take off the CES goggles, the mother shuttle starts to look more like an inefficient bus than a great way to get around a city. You are able to fit what looks like eight pods into a single mobility module, which is as good as a minibus. Granted, the occupants are more comfortable in their individual pods and don’t need to communicate with others in the same transport module, but it’s still much less useful than a bus for carrying large numbers of people.
The pods themselves are called Personal Mobility PnD pods and they are built on Hyundai’s “Plug & Drive” modular platform unveiled at CES. This is the only one intended to move people, but Hyundai suggests several other use cases with a different top side than the platform intended to move things other than people. Hyundai says the Personal Mobility pod is intended to “provide a comfortable experience at the destination while protecting personal privacy”. The pods move autonomously through a city, and Hyundai says they have a driving time of one hour, and take two hours to recharge.
Their best usage scenario sounds like it would be for those with limited mobility. It would be a much better way to get around than a wheelchair. Hyundai says it has autonomous options with Lidar and camera sensors, but you can also control it manually with a joystick. However, the world Hyundai envisions with these pods teeming on a city street doesn’t look like a perfectly joyous future. They take up way too much space on a sidewalk for everyone to drive around in their own personal pod, and seem like an excuse not to walk, too.