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Hyundai forges Project Ioniq Lab

Bright future: By bringing together great minds Hyundai’s vision of the future is either the stuff of fantasy, or a fascinating look at what awaits human mobility.

Project Ioniq Lab is Hyundai’s crystal ball view of the transport industry future

Hyundai logo22 Jul 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

HYUNDAI’S freshly established Project Ioniq Lab is already predicting the way the automotive industry will evolve over the next 14 years, with the first glimpses of mobility in the year 2030 starting to emerge from the dedicated research and development facility.

The project was announced at the Geneva motor show this year and set about gathering top academics, universities and Hyundai development engineers together to forecast changes in the way humans get around.

Since the founding of the lab five months ago, the union of experts has generated 12 ‘megatrends’ that the Korean car-maker says will enable its range of vehicles to evolve with people “enhancing the lives of its customers”.

The lab is officially opening this month and the team of 10 researchers and 10 consultant experts will be lead by professor of Seoul National University and head of Korea Future Design and Research Institute Soon Jong Lee.

By focusing on the four key areas of freedom to use mobility whenever and wherever, freedom to connect to everyday life while on the move, freedom from accidents and inconveniences, and freedom from environmental pollution and energy exhaustion, the lab has published its first findings, revealing an almost utopian world ahead.

According to the panel of experts, a ‘hyper-connected society’ will be centred by mobility solutions that manage vast quantities of data with connections to other vehicles and infrastructure (V2X), and the lab will be focusing on identifying the type of data that will be shared.

A ‘hyper-ageing society’ plans for 21 per cent of the population being older than 65 years old and the lab will examine the requirements of the older demographic.

The lab predicts mobility solutions to cater more for an owner’s health, healing and communication, and says a wearable robot is even a possibility.

Hyundai is predicting a tightening of environmental restrictions on vehicles and says its ‘eco-ism’ focus will explore the alternative energy, energy efficiency and supporting infrastructure to meet regulations of various global regions as they get stricter.

A ‘multi-layered mash-up’ breaks the mould of conventional industrial convergence says Hyundai and merges several different industries that may all mutually benefit from the same advances in technology and speeds up the rate of development by pooling resources.

In another area of research, the lab is exploring the role of artificial intelligence in future mobility and the ‘context-awareness based individualisation’ will sense the emotional and biological state of users to alter vehicle setting without the person having to input information.

Hyundai predicts the advent of artificial intelligence to be rapidly approaching and says a focus on creativity will be important to separate the roles of humans from machines that cannot be creative. The ‘high concept society’ will allow more people to nurture their ideas and develop valuable intellectual property.

In an almost utopian view of the future, Hyundai says “a rising of various minority groups will upset the global status quo perpetuated by various governments, corporations, and key technologies and result in an intensified and expedited competition for leadership.”

This ‘decentralization of power’ will require technology to change in accordance and will bring the realms of reality and virtual reality closer together, as well as allowing more people to have a voice in change.

With the advent of autonomous vehicles, Hyundai says the interior space of a mode of transport will need to be reconsidered and, instead of simply accommodating people, a mobility solution could be used as a therapeutic space to reverse the trend of ‘anxiety and chaos’ that today’s technology contributes to.

The lab’s view on a ‘sharing society’ hints at socialist or communist models with goods valued by their stories, experiences and other intangible values rather than social status, and mobility will be measured on the same scale with shared economy and on-demand services emerging. The structure will only be possible by laying a common interest foundation, it says.

Its prediction of ‘co-evolution’ is probably the most Hollywood of the 12 megatrends and paints a future where the proliferation of automation and robots will tip the cost efficiency of human labour on an unprecedented scale, but the experts say an interaction between humans and artificial intelligence will avert a human-machine stalemate.

An emotional bonding between machine, mobility and human user will invoke the next chapter of human existence with technology. While people will still be able to control machines, the level of computing power will allow vehicles to override human actions, but the emerging inherent moral issues of today will have been resolved by 2013.

Hyundai’s technology will also offer solutions to the problem of ‘mega-urbanisation’ in which the UN forecasts 70 per cent of the world’s 4.9 billion people will live in an urban environment. Machines and mobility will be critical in enabling humans to exist in the ultra high density society without creating traffic congestion and pollution says the lab.

Finally, ‘neo frontierism’ will open the skies to new areas of human and technology advancement with the accelerating advancement of drone technology allowing new possibilities for personal air travel as well as the potential for underwater and underground travel.

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