At Detroit auto show, future high tech is present

January 17, 2018

For the technology phobic, the Einride T-Pod autonomous cargo truck could be the stuff of nightmares.

It is an imposing sight, lacking a traditional driver's cab, and looks like it might have been dreamed up by a sci-fi filmmaker.

The electric truck was one of many high-tech innovations on display at the Detroit auto show, where the top industry players in North America showed off their latest models and considered the future of automobiles and transportation.

A spokesman for Swedish company Einride told AFP on Tuesday it will test the T-Pod on its native country's roads later this year.

The promise of an autonomous future is a dominant theme for industry insiders, and many tech companies participating in the auto show focused on how to improve self-driving vehicles.

Nearby, systems manufacturer Nexteer boasted that it can make a steering wheel that does not need to be physically attached to the actual wheels of a car in order to turn them.

That lack of a direct connection allows the steering wheel to be a lot more maneuverable.

"We can have a stowable column, so the steering actually stows into the dash," Dave Sabol, an engineer with Nexteer, told AFP.

This will be key for , he said, because future cars can hide the when the driver is not in charge.

An Ohio firm offered access to data from its expansive road testing facility at a barely-populated outpost 40 miles out of Columbus.

Chief scientist Christoph Mertz told AFP he can create a database of regularly updated road conditions, so that robot cars of the future can use the information to quickly adapt to their environment.

"At the moment we are in the place where (data) is growing exponentially," Mertz said.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Shuvo is offering to "clean" data that already exists to teach perform better and learn how to drive more like humans.

"That refining process is labeling the data, showing the car what a pedestrian looks like, what a pedestrian does, so that it can better predict different behaviors," Shuvo told AFP.

Despite all of the promise, though, many tech attendees said robots and artificial intelligence are not replacing humans any time soon.

Even that autonomous cargo truck has its limitations.

The T-Pod carries about half as much as a typical human-driven truck and is best for distances no farther than 300 miles, the company said.

Explore further: GM seeks US approval for car with no steering wheel

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