CES 2017: the Honda Neuv is a brain on wheels | Top Gear
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Sunday 1st October

CES 2017: the Honda Neuv is a brain on wheels

Meet your future city car, with Artificial Intelligence and an electric skateboard inside

Published: 06 Jan 2017

Internet, say hello to the Honda Neuv. No, really, do: at its heart is ‘Hana’, the nattily named AI that sets it apart from being another Smart-like city car concept. She’ll definitely say hello back.

It’s been revealed at the CES show in Las Vegas, where ‘AI’ has very much been a buzzword of the show. Now that car manufacturers have established they’re taken us down a self-driven path, they’re finding ways to soothe us as we sit there being transported around.

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So Hana, represented by a small, emoji-like face on the wide dashboard screen, pays attention to your likes and dislikes. She will remember which coffee shops you like to stop by, and when the heart-rate monitor in the seat recognises you’re a wee bit stressed or your angst-ridden face is picked up by the facial recognition, she’ll suggest you pay a visit, even ordering your favourite drink on the way.

She will also mollycoddle novice drivers. When they decide to go for a lightly ill-advised drive on a twisting, challenging bit of road, Hana – once her pleas they take the easy route have been ignored – will dip the car’s power, putting the car’s dynamics into ‘easy’ mode like it’s a computer game.

The Neuv (pronounced ‘New V’) will even work for you. Another trend from CES, one linked to full, ‘level four’ autonomous cars, is that while they’re parked up outside your home or office, they can nip off and act as a ride-sharing device, driving people around and earning you money. If they’re electric, they can sell back their power to the grid at peak time, and charge themselves to replenish it at off peak time, again making you money.

Plentiful tech for a small car, then. The actual drivetrain currently doesn’t exist – the Neuv is very much a concept car, the work of a four-person team over the last year – though it’s notionally electric. “We’d like to think rear-wheel drive,” says Jarad Hall, one of the men from the downtown Los Angeles office behind it. “This is meant to be a cool, sporty small car, not something cutesy. That’s why we’ve blistered the wheel arches.”

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The doors are a minor work of art, comprising the car’s entire side panels, spinning up electronically with the touch of the key fob. That means less panels to manufacture and greater visibility, while the Neuv is meant to blend into – and reflect – its surroundings when parked.

Oh, and there’s an electric skateboard in the boot. Not just a cloyingly lifestyle prop, it’s designed as a ‘last mile’ solution so you can duck out of city traffic, park where it’s free, and nip to your destination past all the gridlock.

Quite a lot going on, then. And as if all that wasn't enough to tempt the youth into car ownership, the Neuv's square shape is perfect for Instragramming.

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