CES 2023: Climate Change Solutions or Greenwashing?

At CES 2023, the Caterpillar sign was unforgettable: “BUILD A BETTER WORLD with us!” It was followed by promos for an autonomous compactor and excavator, then a callout for their big autonomous truck.

I did it, and it was great!

A “better world” may be corporate-speak, but in this case it’s about sustainability. Companies like Caterpillar are cleansing their brands with earthly taglines, stock photos of crops and sunbeams, plastic trees and AstroTurf. As a climate journalist I find these attempts distracting – yet climate tech was still present at the show despite the vague nature references.

When I arrived in Vegas, my colleague Ingrid asked if the show would feature mostly adaptive or mitigative tech. There was a mix of both, but much of what caught my eye leaned towards adaptation; portable batteries and solar gear for campers and preppers were everywhere at CES this year – you couldn’t escape them!

Jackery's portable solar tech at CES 2023.

At CES 2023, Jackery is showcasing their cutting-edge portable solar technology. Harri Weber of TechGround captured the moment for posterity.

EcoFlow’s “whole-home” backup power box and Jackery’s new solar generator were among the highlights, hinting at what we’ll likely see in the future as more people seek to cope with climate anxiety and severe weather.

Moen and Rachio both unveiled tech to help lawn-lovers conserve water and reduce bills, such as a smart sprinkler with soil sensors from Moen and a $100 smart hose timer from Rachio.

Moen's

Moen’s “smart water network” gear streamlines your home with efficient, convenient solutions. It helps you save time and money while keeping your home running smoothly. Image Credits: Moen

Meropy introduced its crop-watching robot that rolls over fields with giant bristles. William Guitton, the company’s CEO, spoke to TechGround about the aim of their creation: to help farmers reduce chemical usage by providing information. Weighing 15 kg (33 lbs.), Meropy’s bots come equipped with cameras that scan both above and below plant foliage.

John Deere showcased farming equipment to reduce fertilizer use, Samsung announced washing machine tech that saves energy and halves microplastic pollution, and AMD highlighted energy efficiency gains in its new chips.

Meropy’s crop monitoring robot

Meropy’s robot keeps watch over crops. It captures images to monitor their growth and health. Image Credits: Meropy

Schneider Electric is making strides in emissions mitigation with their smart-home system, featuring solar and energy storage. Executive Jaser Faruq hopes the app will give customers a sense of control over their power usage. The goal is to help users conserve energy and minimize reliance on fossil fuels – similar to Tesla’s approach; Faruq previously worked in Tesla’s Power Storage & Solar Energy Division.

I was intrigued by No Traffic, a company that automates and surveils intersections. When I asked CEO Tal Kreisler why the name, he said it began as “kind of a joke.” He explained that when people ask how long it takes to travel from San Francisco to Palo Alto through constantly congested areas, you might sarcastically respond: ‘with no traffic, only 20 minutes!’

Kreisler explained that No Traffic’s goal is to make intersections smarter, enabling cities to prioritize their needs – from vehicles and buses, to micromobility and pedestrians. The company seeks to reduce traffic congestion by timing the lights accordingly; so fewer cars are left idling on city streets. However, their scope of work goes beyond what their name implies.

Makka's Prism electric bike

Cake’s Makka Prism electric bike: Harri Weber for TechGround captures it in all its glory.

Electric vehicles and e-bikes make up a large portion of mitigative climate tech. Read my editor Kirsten’s story on how electric vehicle technology took the spotlight this year, with Mercedes Benz announcing a global EV charging network, and Icoma unveiling its suitcase motorcycle. The question of transforming e-bikes with screens is still uncertain – but it’s great to see automakers prioritize EV charging infrastructure development despite issues such as unreliable chargers or environmental racism.

Unfortunately, Mercedes’ city focus likely won’t address rural America’s lack of charging infrastructure.

I was charmed by the bright shields on Cake’s Makka Prism e-bikes – they had a certain cuteness!

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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