Automakers and Silicon Valley Giants Join Forces at 2016 CES
By Philly Murtha, January 07, 2016
It’s not just tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft making a splash in Las Vegas at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Many automakers are getting in on the connected car tech boom with debuts of new electric cars and new voice-, touch-, and gesture-controlled technologies—features that make vehicles more secure and safe. Automakers are also making news with mobility announcements about partnering with ride-sharing services to help deliver more efficient transportation to the masses.
Additionally, research on what consumers want in self-driving vehicles was presented. Volvo surveyed 10,000 consumers and discovered that most want to be able to override their autonomous vehicle controls via the steering wheel. Respondents also believed automakers should accept the responsibility if there is an accident in a self-driving car. The survey also found that most consumers say self-driving technology will make travel time more useful and relaxing during commutes.
Although many new technologies are ready for the market now, experts said there are legal issues that will have to be worked out related to self-driving vehicles. Some automakers see a number of semi- and self-driving technologies becoming available in as few as five years. True self-driving autos, however, may still be 15 years away, according to a Kia Motors official.
A few highlights from the 2016 CES are summarized:
- Audi presented its latest technology developments such as automatic emergency braking, to be installed in future models with the help of supplier Delphi’s new wiring architecture that can handle 1,000 times more information than in current vehicles.
- BMW showcased a concept i8 plug-in electric roadster and a networked cockpit with touch-sensitive surfaces for controls. A head-up display, 3D instrument cluster, and a 21-in. panorama screen were part of the display. New technologies, cameras, and sensors were exhibited on the 7 Series to control information, entertainment, and communication functions.
- A single-seat electric sports car concept called the FFZero1 debuted from new entrant Faraday Future. The production model could go on sale in 2018. The prototype features a flexible platform that can have different configurations of battery packs and electric motors. Faraday Future’s design chief previously worked for BMW on the plug-in i3 and i8 electric cars.
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles introduced a digital technology concept display that explores future intelligent transportation. The automaker’s new fourth-generation UConnect system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity was presented. A 2016 Dodge Charger Pursuit for law-enforcement officers was set up for a hands-on demonstration of a new system to explore future technology. Personalized driving experience technology to learn a driver’s daily habits, traffic patterns, preferences, and locations was featured in addition to a workload manager to limit distractions.
- Ford announced that it will road test a fleet of 30 Fusion Hybrid autonomous cars with latest-generation sensor technology in California, Arizona, and Michigan. Test vehicles will be equipped with a new lightweight, solid-state Hybrid “puck” of auto sensors from Velodyne that is small enough to fit on a car’s side mirrors to create a 3D image during transit. Ford plans to add over a dozen gas-electric and full electric models to its lineup by 2020, reports Automotive News.
- Ford also is working with Amazon and Wink on new ways to connect homes and cars by pairing its Sync-equipped vehicles with home automation devices to remotely operate lights, home security, thermostat controls, TVs, and garage doors.
- General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra unveiled a production-ready 2017 Chevrolet Bolt all-electric car that features the latest safety and connectivity systems, including GPS routing. Slightly smaller than a Chevrolet Trax, the new Bolt EV is designed specifically for ride-sharing and has a driving distance of 200 miles before recharge, according to GM. It will retail for less than $30,000 after federal tax credits are factored in.
- Kia unveiled a sub-brand called “Drive Wise” that includes future intelligent driving, radar, and camera technologies for semi-autonomous vehicles. The Korean automaker plans to test new semi-autonomous technologies in the Soul EV on Nevada roads. New “Human Machine” interfaces with touch and gesture recognition, along with a valet parking feature that allows the driver to exit the car and remotely park, were detailed.
- Mercedes-Benz explored the “digital car” with a connected cockpit preview in its new E-Class, featuring high-res displays, touch-sensitive controls, and smartphone integrated connectivity. The new Mercedes-AMG GT S and C63 coupe also were outfitted with Mercedes me connect services from an automatic emergency call system to remote online vehicle status services.
- Microsoft and Volvo exhibited virtual assistant software that will be able to talk to vehicles such as the new XC90 through a Microsoft tracking device. Microsoft Band 2 technology allows drivers to set up navigation, control climate, lock doors, flash lights, or honk the horn via a connected wearable device. This feature will be available in some markets this spring, according to the companies. Although Microsoft isn’t developing its own self-driving vehicles, it continues to provide new apps, Azure cloud services, and features, according to CEO Satya Nadella, who suggests that cars of the future will be offices or living areas on wheels. Nissan is using Microsoft’s cloud service to collect telematics data from connected cars to improve onboard software.
- Toyota Group introduced its next-generation integrated connectivity technology, including a system that is more user-friendly and provides increased data security, the company says. The new features are built around a data communication module (DCM) that will be installed in many of Toyota’s vehicles beginning in the 2017 model year. Models equipped with DCM will include a new safety emergency notification system activated when an air bag deploys during an accident. DCMs will connect to a new global data center that Toyota is creating to be operational in 2019.
- Volvo unveiled intelligent, high-bandwidth, streaming capabilities with technology partner Ericsson, to help drivers and passengers get the most out of their time traveling in an autonomous Volvo. One-click navigation that knows travel routes and network conditions is a feature.
- Volkswagen previewed a battery-powered electric Microbus—the BUDD-e Concept—that could reach the market as early as 2017. The German auto brand also exhibited gesture control in a future electronic E-Golf Touch that might be available as early as 2019.
For more information on the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), visit www.cesweb.org.