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MWC focuses on moving around with the latest tech

Mobile World Congress features a flying taxi, driverless cars and even a spaceship among the innovative solutions for future travel

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26 February 2018 06:41 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Whether it is a remotely controlled flying taxi or a smart car capable of driving itself, new and innovative ways for getting around was a main focus of Barcelona's Mobile World Congress when it opened its doors on Monday.

Chinese company, eHang, showed off it's flying taxi. The car designed to carry a single passenger is controlled from an operations centre. Able to fly for 50 kilometers at an altitude of 300 metres, the taxi is still being tested, although the makers say they hope it will soon be operational in China and the United States.

Meanwhile, car brands like BMW, Mercedes, Seat and Toyota all have stands at the MWC, to present their latest developments in the growing fields of autonomous, connected and smart vehicles. While progress has been made in applying 5G technology to driverless cars, the main advances are in improved connectivity for the vehicles.

Seat to include Shazam in its cars

Catalan car maker Seat presented its vision of how connectivity can ensure more comfortable and safer driving. One example is the company’s announcement that it will become the first automaker to incorporate the popular music recognition app Shazam into its cars, so as to help avoid drivers becoming distracted.

In showing off the novelties in connectivity, visitors to the Seat stand could meet the Seat Leon Cristóbal. This prototype boasts more than 15 systems that assist the driver and, according to the company, reduce the main causes of accidents by 40%. For example, the car will not start if the driver has drunk alcohol and it can also detect when the driver is tired.

Other car brands at the fair have focused their breakthroughs in connectivity into autonomous cars. German firm BMW, for example, has set up an outdoor track to show how its i3 electric car can drive itself. The car manufacturer also showed off its 'BMW Digital Key', a system that allows the car to be opened and closed by up to five different smartphones.

AI allows interacting with vehicles

Another German car maker, Mercedes, presented its artificial intelligence systems allowing the driver to interact with the vehicle. The MBUX in-car assistant, for example, shows the driver maps in augmented reality. Artificial intelligence is also the basis for phone maker Huawei’s RoadReader system, which can detect different obstacles ahead on the road.

And for those looking to travel further than is possible in a car, even a flying one, the MWC also includes projects related to space. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for example, has a life-size model of a spaceship, to promote its project for a mission to Mars. Meanwhile, Noiton, Huawei and Nasa have come together to let visitors relive the moon landing in a virtual reality simulator.

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  • A model by the Catalan car manufacturer Seat (by Àlex Recolons)

  • A model by the Catalan car manufacturer Seat (by Àlex Recolons)