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Bosch's autonomous connected pod thing is here

Yep, another one. This time from big-boy automotive supplier Bosch

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Hands up, who’s getting a bit bored of autonomous, sharable pod things? Seems like everyone’s doing them – from bicycle manufacturers to flat-pack furniture makers. At least Bosch, the latest company to share its vision of “a new kind of mobility” knows something about cars. While it doesn’t actually build them, it’s one of the biggest suppliers in the business. Your own car probably has a few Bosch bits hidden beneath the surface. And without them, it probably wouldn’t work. 

The company’s concept shuttle is heading to next year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it will be displayed alongside various other bits of very clever tech. Bosch thinks that by 2020 there could be up to a million on-demand shuttles on the road, and up to 2.5 million by 2025. By the middle of the next decade, all of these shuttles will be fully electric and completely autonomous, it claims. 

The concept shuttle is both – autonomous and electric. And it’s connected to digital services that let punters “book the vehicles, share rides with other passengers, and pay for the journey” and operators manage their charging, repair and maintenance. “In the future, every vehicle on the road will make use of Bosch digital services,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the company’s board of management. 

Users book a space with an app on their phone. An algorithm finds the nearest pod, and identifies others who want to go the same way. When the pod rocks up, it recognises the digital footprint of your phone and unlocks the door. Inside there’s four seats, on-board wi-fi and display screens. A concierge service gives access to information like “advance bookings, weather reports, and travel tips”, and payment is taken care of using Bosch’s ‘e-payment’ service. 

Underneath is a complete suite of Bosch’s own sensors and systems, giving autonomous electric drive. The pod can accurately predict when and where it will need a charge, and book itself a space in advance. It can also adapt its driving style based on a number of factors. 

Excited for the future? Or nostalgic for the past?

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