Zapping Autonews Paris Motor Show 2022: Peugeot 408 (2022)

Bye bye Web 2.0 and Hello Web 3… This term refers to a decentralized web using Blockchain technology in particular. Simply put, it is a technology for storing and transmitting encrypted and encrypted information that allows data to be shared without an intermediary, in a secure and transparent way. Transactions such as payments, deliveries or purchases are recorded in the form of blocks, linked to each other and tamper-proof. The blockchain applies in particular to crypto-currencies including Bitcoin, or to the famous NFT tokens (non-fungible token) 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 that could prove very useful when reselling the second-hand vehicle. The Bavarian firm 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 works on battery traceability, payment for charging electric vehicles, exchanges between vehicles and the electrical network, as well as many other subjects.

NFTs: from art to the service book

Alpine GTA conceptCredit Photo – Alpine

You’ve no doubt heard of NFTs, these tokens that constitute a digital document of ownership for an image or video in the field of art. Some manufacturers have smelled the vein and want to attract a younger clientele by offering exclusive content.

Thus, Alpine has created a totally virtual concept car – the GTA concept – of which 5 copies have been sold at auction. Hyundai is the one that has been the most involved by creating its own community (on the Discord and Tiwtter platforms) and by offering thousands of NFTs around the Pony (with the character MetaKongZ), 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 did 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 directly integrate the NFT into a model. This is what he did at Alfa Romeo aboard the Tonale. The SUV therefore has a digital certificate, on which digital information related to maintenance and recorded by the dealer will be stored. The brand sees it as a way to reassure buyers and for the customer to increase the residual value on resale.

Already the first showrooms

Metaverse Store de FiatCredit Photo – Fiat

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

Produced with the help of Microsoft and Touchcast, this concept brings the feeling 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 a smartphone. We simply make an appointment and we can chat on a virtual platform, where a Product Genius (a 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 singer Andrea Bocelli) and will expand to other models during the course of this year, then to other countries. The group is banking 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 believable virtual universe

SkodaverseCredit Photo – Skoda

We expect a lot from Ferrari, which wants to surround itself with partners to offer fans exclusive digital content. A division has been created in Maranello to explore 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 eponymous game and inspired by the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is a showcase of know-how in competition and an opening on future technologies (transparent materials, high-tech steering wheel).

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

Skoda has more recently launched its Skodaverse on the 3D Nemesis platform. You can register, create your avatar and navigate on an island where you can discover an art gallery (with NFTs at stake) and the Enyaq Coupé RS iV, which you can also test Virtual.

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

Virtual trials and helmets on board

Credit Photo – Holoride

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

Nvidia, which is known for its chips and video games, has a platform called Omniverse which will allow manufacturers to offer virtual vehicle tests. Eventually, we should see the development of virtual reality helmets, a solution already 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 autonomous driving will look like. We can also mention the Holoride brand, an Audi partner, which offers passengers VR headsets with games synchronized with the movements of the vehicle.

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

BMW calls for partners

Credit Photo – BMW

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

The Munich firm has identified three areas. The first is that of the equipment to be provided in the vehicle (glasses, connected objects, bio-sensors) with the infrastructure that goes with it (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 at each seat, with a view to interoperability between platforms. The third pillar concerns ecosystems with blockchain and NFTs in order to create new economic models.

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

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

The factory of tomorrow also in the metaverse

Credit Photo – Renault

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

By taking up the codes of gaming, 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 exploiting its partner’s AI and metaverse technologies, the star firm will be able to reduce waste, reduce energy consumption and improve the quality of its products.

to summarize

More and more brands are investing in this virtual universe where you can test vehicles, make purchases and potentially play with virtual reality headsets, or even discover autonomous driving in preview.

Laurent Meillaud

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