The New Year kicked off with a glimpse of the future at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Autonomous vehicles and improved energy efficiency were clearly the belles of the ball at CES 2018.
Autonomous vehicle tech advancements
Improved battery life was a major highlight at CES with Byton and Fisker taking center stage. Both companies have made headlines recently with their promotion of batteries that could bring electric cars a bit closer to everyday reality.
While improvements in energy consumption are noteworthy, the biggest attention was garnered by the bevy of autonomous vehicles at the show. Toyota and GM both unveiled plans for driverless cars, with Toyota offering up a ‘transport vehicle’ that can essentially be turned into just about anything.
The Toyota Pod is called an ‘e-Palette’ and can be turned into anything from a commuter bus to a food truck and all without a driver. It’s essentially ‘plug and play’ for the driving world. With advanced driverless capabilities, the Pod naturally lends itself as an ideal fleet of on-demand rides, so it’s no surprise that Uber is an early partner in the project.
Other CES highlights include:
- Google unveiled an impressive array of Google assistant products with smart speakers and intelligent touchscreen devices stealing the show. Kia announced their involvement with Google to feature assistant enabled devices in their 2018 model line.
- Not to be outdone, it was revealed that Amazon’s Alexa voice integration would be featured in future Toyota and Lexus models. Alexa integration is already featured in some BMW, Ford and Hyundai models.
- Gentex Corp. took the cake for best interactive display with their biometrics system. After recording the user’s iris, a camera in the rear-view mirror scan’s the driver’s iris to confirm their identity and start the car. The system can also automatically adjust the seat, mirrors and steering wheel to that user. The system is also working with Visa checkout to give people the option of paying for gas, tolls and parking fees literally with the wink of an eye.
- Hyundai’s Intelligent Personal Cockpit uses a biometric system and AI-enhanced voice recognition to monitor vital signs. The system can monitor the driver’s stress levels, making adjustments like playing soothing music in order to help calm the driver. In extreme cases – or in the case of accidents – it can also connect the driver with a doctor for a ‘visual consultation.’
- Nissan showcased their “brain to vehicle technology” that uses brain wave detection to sense when you’re about to brake. the system begins braking a split second before you react, essentially speeding up your reaction time.
- Mercedes-Benz exhibited MBUX, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It’s their high-tech dashboard of the future: two 12-inch LCD displays, steering wheel controls for easy scrolling, touch screen technology and voice recognition.
- Kia’s Niro EV Concept car boasts a 64-Kwh battery that the company claims is good for 238 miles. It’s the EV version of the Niro Hybrid crossover which is already shipping and its impressive battery life puts it on par with both the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.
While some of the advanced technology featured at the 2018 CES remains on the distant horizon, much of it is right around the corner. The growing connection between technology and transportation promises to give a science-fiction feel to this year’s automotive shows.