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Self-sinking golf balls and a flying taxi hit tech expo

Self-sinking golf balls and an electric flying taxi have been the latest innovations to surprises audiences at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Car manufacturers have doubled-down on showing off their creations at CES, with Mercedes-Benz revealing a concept car inspired by 2009 film Avatar, while Toyota announced a prototype of an entire new city at the base of Mount Fuji.

In a partnership with Uber, car firm Hyundai revealed a concept version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) machine, the SA-1, which could take to the skies as soon as 2023.

The S-A1, an electric flying taxi developed with Uber, is displayed in the Hyundai booth during
Image: A concept version of the SA-1 was on display in Las Vegas

Eric Allison, the head of Uber Elevate, said the company believed Hyundai could build Uber Air vehicles “at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry” and contribute to the company’s plans to launch an air taxi service.

The electric helicopter – which could one day be autonomous – can move up to 180mph for up to 60 miles, and takes just seven minutes to recharge.

Attendees at CES can experience what those flights could be like thanks to a virtual reality experience which Hyundai has put together.

Fellow carmaker Nissan showed off its innovative capabilities with the ProPILOT golf ball that will actually drive itself into the hole.

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The concept is a little more complicated than it seems at first, and more technology is needed than is just available inside of the ball.

An overhead camera is used to detect the ball, while a powerful computer calculates the balls route and then communicates with it to adjust its trajectory using a small internal motor in order to be sinked.

A ProPilot golf ball, using Nissan's ProPilot Assist technology, drives itself into the hole
Image: Nissan’s golf ball uses ProPilot technology to drive itself into the hole

The real excitement behind this technology isn’t its use in the game, but as part of Nissan’s semi-autonomous driving system.

Samsung and LG showed off enormous walls of panels in their booths, with Samsung’s largest screen dubbed ‘The Wall’ stretching 8K display across an enormous 105-inch screen.

The Wall, a 105-inch micro-LED 8K television in the Samsung Electronics booth
Image: The Wall, a 105-inch micro-LED 8K television in the Samsung Electronics booth
Attendees enter an LG Electronics booth under a display of flexible OLED panels
Image: Attendees enter an LG Electronics booth under a display of flexible OLED panels

Meanwhile, LG’s flexible OLED panels were mounted on the ceiling of their booth, appearing to ripple like waves over the heads of attendants.

Sex tech company Crave was also present on the conference room floor marketing its waterproof vibrators, allowing attendees to build their own from a circuit board, a motor, and a silicone cover.

Sexual wellness companies display their products
Image: Sexual wellness companies display their products

Last year CES caused controversy by stripping a sex tech business of its innovation award on the grounds its sex toy could be considered “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane”.

Lora Haddock, the chief executive of the company Lora DiCarlo, accused CES of gender bias after they retracted the prize, noting sex dolls marketed to men featured on the exhibition floor, as did a virtual reality pornography company.

CES eventually apologised to Lora DiCarlo and gave the company a $2m prize.

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