The Consumer Electronics Show was in Las Vegas this week showcasing all the latest in concept cars and technology. A preview into the not too distant future. The biggest attractions were the concept vehicles debuting their latest achievements in their tech-race to make the first fully autonomous vehicle for mass production. Ford, BMW, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and new startup companies were all there to show what their engineers have been working on. News of the show has been covered extensively throughout the week, but here are the highlights we feel were the most interesting.
CES 2017 Concept Car Highlights
Faraday Future FF 91
Faraday Future is a California based car company established in 2014. At the CES Faraday Future unveiled a car they have been promoting since last year, the FF 91. A luxury, fully electric, concept car that is scheduling for production in 2018 – according to them. The FF 91 uses a 130 kilowatt-hour battery capable of delivering 378 miles of range and crank 1,050 horsepower to the wheels. That means the FF 91 can pull you from 0-60 in 2.39 seconds!
Faraday never mentioned the price, but the FF 91 is aimed at competing against luxury vehicles from Tesla and Bentley. It’s safe to say that the FF 91 won’t be cheap considering the innovative technology it has like True keyless entry. It will allow the FF 91 to use Bluetooth and facial recognition to create/load a driver profile for you. All you have to do is walk up to the vehicle and it will know it is you. Since the FF 91 has your profile saved it will also remember your preferences for seating, music, apps, as the screen on the dash displays your name followed by a friendly welcome. Very cool.
The FF 91 also has more hardware than an electronic display at Best Buy: 10 front and rear cameras, 13 long and short-range radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a 3-D lidar unit that pops out of the hood. Sort of like the red flashing light bar in Knight Rider’s KITT. These are used to help with semi-autonomous driving, but also to allow the FF 91 to show you its party trick, Valet mode. With this feature you will be able to pull up to work, get out, and watch as the FF 91 leaves on its own to find a parking space. An app on your phone will allow you to summon the FF 91 at the end of the day when it’s time to leave.
Anyone interested can put down a $5,000, refundable, deposit to get their hands on an FF 91 fresh off the assembly line, someday.
Toyota’s Concept-I tells a vision of what 2030 may look like. An artificial intelligent vehicle designed to interact with you, the driver. Toyota wanted to build something different, something that went beyond the near future of 2020. Their optimism in suggesting that autonomous technology will be figured out by 2030 allowed them to create something truly fascinating. The vehicle is called the Concept-I, but the soul of the car is an AI named Yui, a 2D robot that lives in the dashboard and can move around to different screens throughout the vehicle. The Concept-I features a “chauffeur mode” which allows the driver to sit back while Yui does all the work. When the driver is in control, Yui monitors the driver’s attention and can help if he/she is distracted.
Toyota’s approach to this vehicle is not to do away with the task of driving because there are still people out there who enjoy it. The Concept-I is for the driver who wants to have fun behind the wheel, but hates commuting to work.
Fiat Chrysler unveiled the Portal, a futuristic electric mini-van aimed to be the best people carrier ever. This was the first time the Portal was shown in the U.S. The Portal comes with a variety of features meant to keep passengers safe and entertained while in motion. The Portal has one electric motor that powers the front wheels and is estimated of squeezing over 250 miles from its battery. The battery itself can charge 150 miles of life in less than 20 minutes using fast chargers. Semi-autonomous driving is available with the hopes that fully-autonomous will be an upgradable option in the future.
The Portal’s attention getter is the variety of media it has to offer. Ten docking stations for your electronics, in-vehicle wireless network that allows for internet cloud-based apps and social sharing among passengers, and tracks on the floor to allow the seats to be moved around or removed. Facial recognition with voice biometrics are also featured in the Fiat Chrysler Portal. This mini-van EV could be the ultimate family truckster of the future once charging stations start popping up like Starbucks cafes.
Hyundai Hyper-Connected Car and Smart House
A common trend among futuristic autonomous vehicles is that the interiors look and feel like a lounge on wheels. Captain’s chairs that be moved around the vehicle, media centers, everything you need to keep you busy while the vehicle drives itself. Hyundai motors has taken that one step further by introducing “Mobility Vision.” The idea is that Hyundai’s autonomous vehicle will be part of a smart home. Instead of going into a garage it will attach itself to the house like an extension on an RV camper.
Throwing the conventional idea of a car into the history book, Hyundai’s plan is to make an autonomous vehicle that is basically a mobile section of your home. When the vehicle is docked to your smart home it will share duties with the smart home. Using its hydrogen fuel cells as an emergency generator in the event of a blackout and serve as extra living space. The vehicle looks like a Tetris piece you sit in and move around. Hyundai’s goal is to make the “hyper-connectivity” so advanced that owners won’t feel the movement as their being transported while “living” in their vehicle as if they were at home.
BMW HoloActive Touch System
Anyone who has seen Marvel superhero movies will be reminded of Tony Stark’s hologram computers. BMW introduced its HoloActive Touch System to serve as the interior of their future vehicles. No glass touch screens, no buttons, just a “free floating” virtual display that appears on the dash and recognizes your hand gestures to select and control. Very impressive considering Star Wars still use buttons on their space ships, how low tech.
Honda NeuV & Riding Assist
Pronounced as “NewV” it stands for New Electric Urban Vehicle. A compact electric vehicle with AI capabilities that can assist a driver in decision making and earn money for the owner by working as a ride-sharing vehicle, or selling energy back to an electric grid. Imagine, you arrive at work and say goodbye to your little Honda NeuV as it goes off to work as an autonomous Uber vehicle.
Honda also showcased technology targeting motorcycle riders with Riding Assist technology. Robotics designed to help stabilize a motorcycle to reduce the chances of the driver falling off when the motorcycle is at rest. A motorcycle you won’t knock over, very useful.
Volkswagen showed a preview of “Volkswagen User ID” which is a way to take your preferences across multiple vehicles. Music, seating position, display options are all saved to your ID profile.
Audi announced that it would have a fully autonomous vehicle on the road by 2020. Ford announced that a hybrid Mustang and F-150 are in the works for production.
The Future of Motoring
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show has opened up our imaginations to what the future has in store for us. The only problem is now we have to wait and be patient until all this new tech becomes available.