Automotive

Audi’s Holoride is a VR experience like no other

Back seat car rides will never be the same again

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It had been a long day, but I could still barely contain my excitement as a fancy car whizzed me down the interstate to a race track on the outskirts of Las Vegas, one chilly evening before the start of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. 

While the in-seat back massage made me wish the ride was longer, I also couldn’t wait to get there. Tonight would be my first time in an e-Tron, Audi’s new fully electric SUV, and my first taste of what Audi calls the future of mobility, one with entertainment content at its center.

It’s an interesting proposition, one I’m more than willing to chew on. With self-driving vehicles on the horizon, tonight, instead of getting behind the wheel, I take a back seat, put on a VR headset, and trade my current reality for one that promises to be more exhilarating.

Called “Rocket’s Rescue Run,” it’s the first title in a collaboration between Marvel and Disney and Audi’s new spin off venture Holoride, that aims to make VR entertainment a mainstay in cars of the future.

As the e-tron’s driver steps on the accelerator, in my alternate universe my ship surges through space. I’m joined by my sidekick Rocket Raccoon, and together we team up to help Iron Man take down a mob of Thanos’ space goons.

I’ve had many VR experiences before, but none like this. As soon as the SUV pulls away, the whole experience makes perfect sense. Every twist, every sharp turn, every bit of acceleration or sudden brake is matched by the same sensation in the game. For the entire 5-minute ride, my body is tricked into believing this reality. Not an easy feat for an utterly nitpicky tech journalist, I can only begin to imagine how big of a technical challenge it was to pull off.

I wield my laser gun like a pro, take down an evil mothership, and celebrate our victory with fireworks. The experience ends, and the e-tron stops. Reluctantly, I take off my headset. It feels like I’ve just been on a theme park ride, but from the privacy of my own car — well, not really, but I wish — and without standing in an hour-long line. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that during my adventure the e-tron reached speeds of up to 90mph. We’ve navigated plenty of sharp turns, too, but I don’t feel so woozy.

Supposedly matching the car’s movements to the virtual reality experience helps in mitigating nausea. As I get out, I thank my driver, but also can’t help but imagine a world that’s driver-optional.

At CES, we saw Audi’s vision of the future, a concept car called the Aicon, with an interior that resembles more of a lounge than a current automobile. As with Holoride, the development of Aicon represents a shift in the idea of mobility, one that’s ushered in by a focus on passengers instead of drivers. Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles. If no one is driving, what else are we to do?

Anything you want to, apparently. Cars are now seen as multi-purpose spaces, just another room that we occupy as we travel from place to place: be it a relaxation pod, a meeting room, or your own private cinema.

The team behind Holoride is most invested in the latter, creating entertainment experiences that are just long enough to fill the entire duration of your trip. They’re calling it “elastic content,” VR games and adventures that automatically adjust to congestion and shortcuts, so that you’re never left without something to occupy you.

Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles.”

Soon, Holoride plans to open its technology to more car manufacturers, content creators, and game developers. The goal is for a wide range of immersive experiences, customized to events in the real world like traffic jams or stop lights, and for those experiences to be available in more car brands. Apart from games, like the one I played, the company is also planning movies, interactive features, and educational tours. Indeed, the type of content you could enjoy is limited only by the imagination.

A few minutes later, I find myself getting another back massage inside another chauffeured Audi A8, making our way back into downtown Las Vegas. These days, when I do travel by car, the experience is similar to this, albeit less fancy. I’m bored, maybe antsy or impatient, in the back seat, with only my phone and social media to distract me. I hadn’t given it much thought till today, but in a world where one constantly thirsts for something to capture one’s attention, I can certainly see how “content will be a major driving force for the mobility experience of the future.”

The day is almost over and I am exhausted. I recline my chair, close my eyes, and enjoy the back massage for a few minutes more. I dream I am back in the e-tron, and wonder when this future will arrive, what it would be like if the next Avengers movie was interactive, and most importantly, what it would be like to watch it from the back seat of a fully autonomous Audi.

Automotive

General Motors unveils a flying Cadillac taxi concept

Personal taxis of the future may look like this

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CES 2021 continues to wow everyone with the launching of new products and the unveiling of concept products that could become a reality one day. One such concept product showed at CES is the flying Cadillac taxi concept by General Motors (GM).

The flying taxi concept is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle, eliminating the need for any runway. Based on the exhibit by GM, it is a single-seater with eight coaxial rotors on the side. The vehicle will also operate autonomously with an electric motor and a 90-kWh battery powering it. The motor also enables the flying taxi to speed up to 56 mph.

Further details about the Cadillac flying taxi are scarce beyond these basic specifications. GM says that this concept is part of its “multi-modal future”: the taxi will act as a personal ferry between two points. Upon arriving at these points, a person can take another electric vehicle to carry them to their destination.

The flying taxi is also a part of GM’s new Ultium platform, which is its in-house solution for EV fleets. As for real-world availability, GM hasn’t disclosed anything so the final product may look drastically different than this one. However, it still is a cool concept that could bode well in the future.

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Automotive

Apple and Hyundai are partnering for an electric car in 2024

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For years, the enigmatic Apple Car has popped in and out of the limelight. Merely because of the volume of reports, the company is certainly working on a vehicle for the future. Finally, the rumored vehicle gets some much-needed confirmation. After several reports, Apple and Hyundai are partnering for an electric car in 2024.

Late last week, an ambiguous rumor reported as much. According to a South Korean outlet, both companies were reportedly in early talks for such a partnership. At the time, the electric car was supposedly entering production in 2027. However, both Apple and Hyundai denied the rumors, casting the report in doubt.

Today, however, a new report has updated last week’s seemingly debunked rumor, as reported by Reuters. This time, Korea IT News, a South Korean newspaper, confirmed the upcoming partnership of the two companies. Apple and Hyundai will reportedly ink the deal by March this year. And, instead of a 2027 deadline, the Apple Car will enter production by 2024.

Again, both companies have refused to comment on the potential partnership. Soon after, the newspaper removed the 2024 anticipated date. According to the same report, Apple and Hyundai will create and release a beta version of the vehicle next year.

Besides their iconic iPhones, Apple has dabbled in other industries over the past few years. For example, the company successfully released an Apple Card, its entry in the fintech industry.

SEE ALSO: Apple is developing its own search engine

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Automotive

Nissan offers exclusive discounts, low downpayment on select models

Save up to PhP 430,000 on your next Nissan purchase!

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Getting your first car is tempting this holiday season. Nissan has just extended its Safer Drives and Deals promo until December 31, offering exclusive discounts and savings on select models.

You can avail of up to PhP 430,000 discount when you buy a brand-new Nissan Patrol, Nissan X-Trail, Nissan Terra, Nissan Sylphy, Nissan Urvan, and Nissan Almera. Through Nissan’s financing program, you can also benefit from monthly offers such as PhP 5,769 downpayment with 0% interest for up to 24 months, or free amortization for up to 6 months on select vehicles.

Select variants of Nissan Navara also come with cash savings of up to PhP 185,000. Also bundled on this exclusive offer is a free bedliner accessory. However, this exclusive offer is only available through Nissan’s financing program.

If you are paying through cash though, you can still take advantage of cash discounts for other Nissan models. You can save up to PhP 330,000 on select variants of Nissan Patrol, Terra, X-Trail, Sylphy, Navara, Urvan, and Almera.

Meanwhile, an all-in low downpayment option for as low as PhP 28,000 is available for Nissan Almera, Sylphy, X-Trail, Terra, Navara, and Urvan. Downpayment options are available through select partner banks of authorized Nissan dealers.

Tempted to get a Nissan car already? Visit Nissan Philippines’ website for more information on their latest promo.

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