new connected world or gadget?

Zapping Autonews Hyundai Ioniq 6 (2022): the new electric sedan in video

Bye bye Web 2.0 and Hello Web 3… This term refers to a decentralized web that uses Blockchain technology in particular. Simply put, it is a technology for storing and transmitting encrypted and encrypted information that allows data sharing without intermediaries, securely and transparently. Transactions such as payments, deliveries or purchases are recorded in the form of blocks, linked together and tamper-proof. The blockchain is especially true for cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, or for the famous NFT tokens (non-fungible tokens) which we will discuss later.

But, in the automobile, the process can also be used to trace the origin of sensitive materials such as cobalt. This is what Volvo does, for example. At BMW we want to go further and guarantee the traceability of spare parts, with a digital passport which could prove very useful in case of resale of the used vehicle. The Bavarian company has joined forces with Renault, Ford, GM, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Stellantis and other entities (equipment manufacturers, administrations, service operators) to create MOBI (mobility open blockchain), a research group on blockchain in automotive and mobility Services. He covers battery traceability, payment for electric vehicle charging, interchanges between vehicles and the electricity grid, among many other topics.

NFT: from art to service book

Alpine GTA conceptPhoto credit – Alpine

You have surely heard of NFTs, these tokens that constitute a digital document of ownership of an image or video in the field of art. Some producers have sensed the vein and want to attract a younger clientele by offering exclusive content.

Alpine has thus created a totally virtual concept car – the GTA concept – of which 5 examples were sold at auction. Hyundai is the one that has been most involved by creating its own community (on the Discord and Tiwtter platforms) and offering thousands of NFTs around the Pony (with the MetaKongZ character), the Ioniq 6 and even a robotic vehicle concept (MobED : Mobile Eccentric Droid ).

The trend is also to accompany the appearance of a model with NFTs. This is what Volkswagen has done for example around the ID Buzz by launching three NFTs with the artist Marylou Faure. Lamborghini has created one, exclusive, around the Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae Coupé. Still within the VW group, Skoda, which has joined this universe, is content for the moment with NFT around cycling.

The Stellantis group is the first to integrate NFT directly into a model. That’s what he did in Alfa Romeo aboard the Tonale. The SUV therefore has a digital certificate, on which digital maintenance information will be stored and recorded by the dealer. The brand sees this as a way to reassure buyers and for the customer to increase residual value on resale.

Already the first showrooms

Fiat Metaverse storePhoto credit – Fiat

During the last CES in Las Vegas, Fiat presented the first showroom in the world of the metaverse.

Produced with the help of Microsoft and Touchcast, this concept carries the feel of a home showroom. The advantage comes from the fact that this Metaverse Store does not require a virtual reality headset. All you need is a computer or smartphone. We simply make an appointment and chat on a virtual platform, where a Product Genius (flesh-and-blood expert) can help you configure and buy the electric Fiat 500.

The idea was first launched in Italy (with the 500 in its version with the audio system supervised by the singer Andrea Bocelli) and will extend to other models during this year, then to other countries. The group relies on this virtual showroom to develop the brand in the United States.

In China, the Lynk & Co brand (which belongs to the Geely group) has also opened a showroom on the Baidu platform, the equivalent of Google.

A more or less credible virtual universe

SkodaversePhoto Credit – Skoda

We expect a lot from Ferrari, which wants to surround itself with partners to offer enthusiasts exclusive digital content. A division has been created in Maranello to explore the opportunities around virtual reality and gaming. In the meantime, the prancing horse brand has made a foray into the virtual world with the GT Vision Gran Turismo, designed for the game of the same name and inspired at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is a showcase of competing know-how and an opening to future technologies (transparent materials, high-tech steering wheel).

Some brands already offer their own virtual universe. This is the case of Honda, which offers a hosted Hondaverse at the base of the Fortnite game and accessible on the Twitch platform. The brand offers an environment around the Honda HR-V, which players can discover and test along the way.

Skoda recently launched its Skodaverse on the 3D Nemesis platform. You can register, create your avatar and sail to an island where you can discover an art gallery (with NFT up for grabs) and the Enyaq Coupé RS iV, which you can also test Virtual.

Indian manufacturer Mahindra has also invested the metaverse with a platform to test its new electric SUV, the XUV 400. It makes a point of honor to offer photorealistic graphics. Its compatriot MG Motor India also offers test drives, with the added benefit of an assistant to answer questions. He plans to enrich the experience with a virtual reality headset.

Virtual tests and helmets on board

Photo Credit – Holoride

Hyundai is undoubtedly the most involved manufacturer in the metaverse. On the platform Zepeto had already inaugurated the virtual tests of the Sonata-N. It decided to enrich these experiences by previewing its Supernal brand flying taxi, as well as the futuristic S-Hub transit station and S-Link autonomous shuttles.

Nvidia, known for its chips and video games, has a platform called Omniverse that will allow manufacturers to offer virtual vehicle tests. Eventually, we should see the development of virtual reality helmets, a solution that has already been available for years at Audi in dealerships, but also at Mercedes (where the helmet is coupled to a mobile seat). It’s a more fun way to experience the vehicle and show what self-driving will be like. We can also mention the Holoride brand, an Audi partner, which offers passengers VR headsets with games synchronized with the vehicle’s movements.

At CES, the German company announced a retrofit solution that allows its technology to be adapted to any car, in order to make it more accessible (for the moment only in Germany and the United States). We can also expect stationary virtual experiences. Valeo estimates, for example, that when charging at a terminal, the driver could wear a helmet and experience sensory experiences by interacting with the vehicle’s sensors. This is what he showed at CES in Las Vegas.

BMW asks for partners

Photo credit – BMW

For its part, BMW just launched a call for projects (what it’s calling a “supplierthon”) around the metaverse and other virtual experiences. The goal is to identify applications and services that could not take place in the real world, soliciting researchers, start-ups and potential technology partners. This is a way for BMW to extend the vision already expressed at this year’s CES through its i Vision Dee* concept, which creates the link between the real world and the virtual world.

The Munich company has identified three areas. The first is that of the equipment to be placed on board the vehicle (glasses, connected objects, biosensors) with the accompanying infrastructure (5G, cloud, Internet of Things, AI) to introduce mixed and extended reality. The second is that of the in-car experience, with the possibility of offering interactive content in real time in every seat, with a view to interoperability between platforms. The third pillar is about ecosystems with blockchain and NFT in order to create new economic models.

Winners will have the opportunity to work with BMW, knowing that the group has already attracted partners by launching similar tenders in quantum computing, the smart city and the connected car.

*At BMW Welt, Munich, this concept is animated on a 42m2 screen. Visitors can scan their face and virtually find themselves in 3D in the i Vision Dee.

The factory of tomorrow also in the metaverse

Photo credit – Renault

Renault is the first to have chosen to invest in the metaverse to optimize its industrial production. It can afford it, because 100% of the production lines are connected (8,500 pieces of equipment) and 90% of the supply flows are constantly monitored. It should be noted in passing that its partner Google collects 1 billion pieces of data a day in the cloud. The idea is therefore to replicate the factories in the meta, in the form of digital twins. This makes it possible to monitor what is happening on the assembly lines in real time and to also integrate external data on the weather and road traffic, processed by artificial intelligence. By mixing the real and the virtual, Renault hopes to make savings of hundreds of millions, reducing vehicle delivery times by 60% and carbon footprint by 50%.

By resuming the codes of the game, it will also be possible to do, for example, training in painting in virtual reality. Mercedes will follow suit using the Nvidia Omniverse platform. By leveraging artificial intelligence and its partner’s metaverse technologies, the stellar company will be able to reduce waste, reduce energy consumption and improve the quality of its products.

to summarise

More and more brands are investing in this virtual universe where it is possible to test vehicles, make purchases and potentially play with virtual reality headsets or even discover autonomous driving first.

Laurent Meillaud

Leave a Comment