Car tech takes center stage at CES 2016


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ces_logoThe 2016 edition of CES in Las Vegas is giving people a lot to talk about with regard to automotive technology announcements from major automakers as well as new stuff from both startup tech & traditional electronics companies. CES is chockful of interesting innovations beyond Google´s self-driving car concepts & Tesla’s breakthrough electric vehicles, which have been the most visible players of late in this area.

From advances toward mainstream autonomous cars from Volvo, GM, Kia, Rinspeed & BMW to leaps in battery & green tech for electric vehicles from Tesla & Volkswagen, devices that let cars talk to smart homes through IoT from Google, Ford & BMW, & even Office & Skype for your car from Harman. These are just some of the most interesting things that assistants to CES are seeing on the automotive tech front. The list is seems endless.

Autonomous Tech

While true self-driving cars are still undergoing advanced development on both off-road & on-road testing on highways & urban settings, tech derived from the lab is already being made available to consumers. Volvo,for example, announced that ‘Pilot Assist II’, its semi-autonomous tech, would be part of its mainstream S90 sedans later this year, making this the 1st car available in the US & worldwide with semi-autonomous production tech. The currently deployed Pilot Assist I stops & steers with visible lane markings @ up to 30 MPH, while the newly announced Pilot Assist II takes this up a notch to 80 MPH.

Kia announced at #CES2016 how the creation of a new sub-brand for its autonomous driving tech called “Drive Wise”. This is still a work in progress since Kia’s plans are to have semi-autonomous cars on the road by 2020 & fully self-driving cars by 2030. But Kia had tech on display at CES which allows the car to change lanes & overtake on the highway as well as being capable of urban autonomous driving. It also has a Preceding Vehicle Following System & an Emergency stop System that takes the car to the side of the road if the driver isn’t paying attention.

Amongst the most far out tech on display at #CES2016 is the Swiss Company Rinspeed’s Ʃtos concept car. It has its own drone with an on-board landing pad, which can scout out the terrain ahead & go shop for provisions for its passengers. It learns the driver’s points of interest & entertainment preferences & also incorporates the Harman LIVS automotive Connected Car Platform & connectivity to MS Office 365 services. Rinspeed is fully aware that a production car is still a long ways off, however.

Green Energy Tech

Chevrolet announced the availability later this year of its affordable electric vehicle, the new 2017 Volt EV. The big news is that it’s expected to be available nationwide in the US in 2016 with a sticker price of US $30K (well below its current $37K), & its exceptional autonomy of 200 miles on a charge is almost double the current segment leader Nissan Leaf’s 107 mile rating.

Volkswagen announced the BUDD-e concept van, based on the VW Microbus design, it has a range of 233 miles on a charge – a lot for a van – with fast charging (15 minutes for an 80% charge) & max speed of 93 MPH. The promise is for this car, or the tech it is showcasing, to be on the road by 2020. With this concept it looks like VW is definitely trying to atone for its environmentally challenged record due to the recent Dieselgate fiasco.

Perhaps the most visibly striking piece of automotive tech announced at CES may be the California startup Faraday Future’s FFZERO1 concept car. This is a futuristic-looking all electric vehicle which is looking to get funded, but unlikely to see production – we’ll see. It boasts a 1000 HP, 4 motor power train with a max speed of 200 MPH & a 0-60 time of less than 3 seconds. It doesn’t have a door, supplies water & oxygen to the driver’s helmet & has a smartphone embedded on the steering wheel.

Electronics & Computing

The CES, which was formerly known as the Computer Electronics Show, couldn’t fail to be without a bunch of announcements fitting the spirit of its former moniker.

audices

Caption: At CES 2016, Audi is demonstrating advancements in virtual-reality technology that will let customers build & configure their cars & even hear what they will sound like.

A number of companies, including Ford & Toyota announced the introduction of a new car Operating System called SyncConnect which will help integrate car entertainment systems with smartphones & allow integration with Internet of Things (IoT) tech by allowing users to control smart home appliances from their cars.

Audio electronics Company Harman announced one of the oddest partnerships seen at this show, with Microsoft, to incorporate integration with Microsoft Office 360 to its line of infotainment products (see the BMW-Rinspeed mentioned earlier). Although now you can if you want to, hopefully you won’t be writing a Word document or Excel spreadsheet while driving, at least not until you’re riding in a fully autonomous car.

BMW announced its ‘Air Touch’ gesture-based control system for its 7-series sedans. The car maker showed a prototype that reads hand movements that allows a driver to control infotainment & telematics systems, such things as volume control & phone call management. The tech creates a virtual touchpad in space.

In another announcement, BMW also showed an i8 concept car with a mirrorless system which would replace the rearview & side mirrors, showing a display where the rearview mirror would normally be. It uses cameras to provide input to the display & eliminates the typical blind spots in mirrors as well as the aerodynamic drag introduced by the side view mirrors.

 

Image Credit: Audi

 

 

 

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