CES Auto Reveals
As automakers look for new ways to showcase their vehicles, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is becoming an increasingly import stage to show the latest innovations in mobility. Chinese automaker BYTON used the Nevada destination to showcase the technology in their upcoming BYTON M-Byte.
This isn’t BYTON’s first appearance in Las Vegas. They unveiled the M-Byte concept to the crowd at CES in 2018. At last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show we saw the first production model.
The electric SUV will feature a 48-inch screen stretching across the dashboard. They call it the BYTON Stage. The company says it will offer more than just the usual driving and infotainment information. Among the uses for this wide screen will be an in-car theater experience. BYTON has teamed up with ViacomCBS and Access to bring video content to the cockpit. The wide screen will also offer on-demand weather information from AccuWeather. They say it will also be able to help make travel reservations and notify the driver about points of interest along the way. The company refers to the M-Byte as a “Smart Device on Wheels”. That will allow voice command of mobile apps in multiple languages. While we haven’t had a chance to try out BYTON’s system, it seems to follow other automakers offering personal digital assistants.
The crowd in Las Vegas is also seeing the latest from Fisker. They’re revealing the Fisker Ocean all-electric luxury SUV. The company says the electric range will be between 250 and 300 miles, supported by an approximate 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Fisker says we’ll have to wait until the Geneva Motor Show in March to find out more about the platform and more detailed technical specifications.
What they are releasing now is the price. The Fisker Ocean starts at $37,499, but after the U.S. federal tax credit, that drops to $29,999. There’s also a $379 per month leasing option, that allows customers to keep the vehicle for what seems like as long as they want with 30,000 miles per year included.
The vehicles will be on display at what Fisker calls “experience centers” this year. Customer can schedule test drives through their mobile app in 2021, and take delivery in 2022. Fisker is projecting they’ll produce more than 1-million vehicles between 2022 and 2027. The platform for the Fisker Ocean will underpin two more Fisker models.
Bosch is bringing the sun visor into the 21st century. They’ve developed a Virtual Visor, which features a transparent LCD panel, a driver-facing camera with Artificial Intelligence facial detection, analysis and tracking software. The visor tracks the sun’s shadow, keeping it over the driver’s eyes, while allowing the driver to see the road through the rest of the visor.
Continental is pushing the technology frontier on several fronts. They’re showing a transparent hood. Using four satellite cameras and an electronic control unit, the driver is able to see the road or terrain rolling under the hood.
They’re also introducing a Natural 3D Centerstack. It can show information you’d normally find on the center stack in 3-d… without using special glasses.
Audiophiles will be curious about sound being created without speakers. The concept Ac2ated Sound system would cause existing surfaces in the vehicle, like the roof lining and rear shelf… to vibrate creating a variety of sounds. Engineers were inspired by classical string instruments that resonate sound from their wooden bodies.
Toyota is literally building a city to embrace the possibilities of technology. They plan to build what they call “a prototype city of the future”. It will be located on a 175-acre site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. They’re calling it the Woven City, because it will be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells and solar energy.
This real-world incubator will provide an opportunity to research and use a variety of new technologies in real life situations. As far as transportation goes, the city’s infrastructure will be based on a digital operating system where people, vehicles and buildings are all “connected”. The streets will be designed for three different uses: faster vehicles only, a mix of lower speed, personal mobility and pedestrians, and pedestrians only areas. Toyota says building a city from the ground up and laying out the streets will help speed up the testing of autonomous vehicles.
Initially 2,000 people will live in the Woven City, including Toyota employees and their families. Groundbreaking is planned for early 2021.
Hyundai and Uber have set their sights on the sky. They’ve announced an Aerial Ridesharing Partnership. They unveiled a full-scale aircraft concept known as Hyundai’s S-A1 at CES. With seating for four, this air taxi can cruise at speeds up to 180 miles/hour, as much as 2,000 feet above ground, for up to 60 miles. Hyundai will build the aircraft. Electricity will power multiple rotors and propellers located around the aircraft. Hyundai says this is a quieter design than current helicopters using larger rotors and combustion engines. Since this is designed for urban mobility, the air taxi will be able to take off and land vertically. They say there will be a pilot initially, but the idea is for these airborne taxis to eventually fly autonomously.
Mercedes-Benz showed a concept they admit could materialize far into the future. The VISION AVTR stands for “advanced vehicle transformation”. Inspiration comes from the AVATAR films. Instead of a conventional steering wheel, the driver will place their hand on a multifunctional control element in the center console to activate the vehicle. A menu selection would appear on the driver’s hand using real-time 3D graphics. Naturally it’s an EV, but they say the batteries would be completely recyclable, not using any rare metals. The concept plans also call for the ability to drive the front and rear axles in the same or opposite direction, with the ability to move sideways by about 30 degrees sort of like a crab.
The Audi AI:ME is the 4-ring brand’s vision of the future. The fully automated car could read eye movements to receive commands. Passengers would be treated to a pair of virtual reality goggles so they can experience a virtual flight that adapts to the movements of the vehicle in real time.
For drivers, a 3D mixed reality head-up display appears to be floating at a distance. Audi says this helps eliminate the need to refocus from a long range to a short range view.
“Audi Intelligence Experience” becomes more sophisticated expanding from the current self-learning navigation system to automatically learning drivers’ preferences for seat position, media, route guidance and temperature. Networking will operate ten times faster with the new third generation modular infotainment platform known as MIB 3.
Nissan's Ariya concept made its North American debut following the Tokyo Motor Show. The company calls it a “near-future look” based on Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Riding on an all-new platform, the midsize crossover EV reveals a new design direction for the company.
BMW has a clear focus on the interior of future mobility. The BMW i Interaction EASE is naturally autonomous, with what they call a “gaze detection system”. The vehicle’s artificial intelligence detects when a passenger focuses on something outside the car and automatically provides information about it.
The BMW i3 Urban Suite brings luxury in a small package. They took an electric i3, and gave the passenger a large seat with footrest, a flip down screen from the headliner, and a personal Sound Zone. The driver’s seat and dashboard remain the same as current models. BMW brought 20 of these concepts to Las Vegas so passengers could experience them on the street.
Other BMW innovations include the ZeroG Lounger with seats that can recline by up to 60 degrees, and 5G capability when the BMW iNEXT is launched in 2021.
Honda showed a variety of futuristic technology, including the Augmented Driving Concept. The system features more than eight different drive modes between semi-autonomous and fully autonomous operation. They’re also working on a voice activated personal assistant, and technology allowing cars to communicate with each other preventing collisions and reducing traffic congestion.