As cars become aesthetically more like smart devices and smartphones, with their sleek designs and electrical capabilities, more of them are showing up at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) every year.
Here are some of the most futuristic concept designs that were on display on the showroom floor during CES 2020.
1. Audi AI:ME
The Audi AI:ME is a fully automated vehicle that boasts "empathetic AI". That means the Knight Rider-like concept will eventually be able to know its driver's preferences and adapt to their needs without being prompted.
"In the future, the car will conduct a precise analysis as to the functions and settings that its user prefers, ranging from the seat position, media, route guidance, and temperature to the fragrancing of the interior," Audi said in a press statement.
"After a short time, the empathetic Audi is familiar with the user’s preferences and implements them autonomously."
The car company says it wants consumers to see the car as the "third living space" alongside their home and their working space.
2. Toyota LQ
The theme for many of the concept cars on display this year was empathy. Toyota's electric LQ concept is no different. The company says its car satisfies the "human need to be engaged emotionally" thanks to an artificial intelligence agent named Yui that comes with the car.
According to Toyota, the LQ concept highlights the idea that "mobility goes beyond physical transportation to include the human need to be moved and engaged emotionally".
What's more, the autonomous car comes with "a world first in seating technology," the LQ smart seat. Via several inflatable "air bladders" and air conditioners, the seats can help relax or wake the drivers depending on what the situation calls for.
3. Honda Augmented Driving Concept
Many of the concepts this year also touched on the wonder of exploration that cars bring us, and how this experience can be enhanced with automation.
This year, Honda introduced its Augmented Driving Concept "to address the cultural transition to autonomous vehicles."
"To respond quickly to the user’s curiosity, the autonomous driving system is constantly on standby, ready to intervene and control the vehicle when needed," Honda says.
Honda has also "reinvented the steering wheel" for this concept. Pat the steering wheel twice to start the vehicle, pull the steering wheel to slow it down and push it to speed the car up. With its concept, Honda hopes to retain the thrill of driving in the oncoming era of automated vehicles.
4. Sony Vision S
Sony, better known for its gaming consoles and home electronics, unveiled the first car in the company's history at CES, the Vision S.
As might have been expected, the car has a heavy focus on entertainment systems.
The car is fitted with more than 30 of Sony's CMOS sensors, on the inside and outside of the vehicle, allowing the car to have increased autonomy.
The Vision S also comes with 360˚ Reality Audio, a new automotive entertainment feature from Sony.
The concept for the Vision S was revealed alongside the company's hyped-up PS5 logo, which looks practically the same as the PS4 logo, one of the more bizarre announcements of the show.
5. Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR
The Mercedes Vision AVTR concept takes its aesthetic inspiration from the famous James Cameron film, Avatar — a movie that innovated by bringing 3D cinema back into the mainstream.
Mercedes' concept is largely based on a future in which organic battery technology has made transport more sustainable and biometric technology allows people to interact with vehicles like never before.
The Vision ATVR’s 110 kW/h battery uses "a revolutionary battery technology based on graphene-based organic cell chemistry that is completely clean of rare earths and metals," Mercedes says.
The rear of the vehicle boasts 33 scales, or "bionic flaps", that give the car a suitably alien-like feel. Mercedes say these flaps can be used to communicate with other drivers.
The concept car has a 470 horsepower and offers a driving range of 435 miles. Special spherical wheels allow the otherworldly car to move sideways and diagonally, making parking much less awkward — how's that for an alien concept.
6. Fiat Centoventi
Fiat calls their Centoventi concept car "a concept born to be dressed." Its modular design makes it incredibly customizable, allowing owners to change the roof, seats, bumpers, and more.
Centoveni means "120" in Italian, signifying Fiat’s 120 years as part of the automotive industry.
The car, which was first seen at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, even has a customizable battery pack, which can be changed between 60 miles and 300 miles of range.
7. Nissan Ariya Concept
Nissan's zero-emission Ariya concept is one of the few design concepts at the show whose company claimed could be just around the corner.
"The Ariya Concept is not a concept car designed from far off ideas, but rather a car that embodies Nissan Intelligent Mobility at its core and highlights a promise of an entirely new driving experience on the horizon," said Yasuhiro Yamauchi.
A lot of these cars might never be manufactured, but it's what they say about the future of transport that counts.
If CES 2020 is anything to go by, the future of mobility will be focused on the thrill of driving and on vehicles that are more than just a pragmatic way to get us where we want to go.