Augmented Driving Concept to the Urban Suite: new car tech to watch out for
WITH THE world’s car makers increasingly looking ahead to fully-autonomous motoring, electrified powertrains, and Internet-connected technologies and advanced infotainment, it’s no surprise many of them have set up shop at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
From new advancements in existing tech to concept cars hinting at what may reach production in the years to come, there are plenty of interesting gadgets and gizmos being flaunted at CES in 2020. Below are our picks of the best new car tech reveals at the show this year.
BMW i3 Urban Suite
While it’s not a tech showcase per se, BMW’s i3-based concept is nevertheless an intriguing glimpse at what city cars could evolve into in the not-too-distant future.
In its conversion into an “urban suite”, the i3’s cabin has been comprehensively remodelled (only the dashboard and front driver’s seat are as you’d find them in the existing road car), being converted into a hotel-inspired lounge area that BMW describes as “the perfect place for relaxing, enjoying in-car entertainment or focusing on work in a laid-back setting”.
Bosch long-range lidar sensors for autonomous driving
Fully autonomous cars are still some way off but Bosch wants to speed up their introduction by launching an “advanced” lidar (light detection and ranging) system, which can detect and identify objects around a car, that can be bought off-the-shelf by car makers.
Exactly when the laser-based sensors will debut on a production car remains to be seen, though Bosch claims the finished product will be affordable enough for the mass market.
Byton Stage 48in infotainment display
Byton showed off its huge in-car display unit at CES last year, and the Chinese start-up returned to the tech expo in 2020 with even more details on its impressive “Byton Stage” infotainment system.
As well as being where the main driver information and navigation info is displayed, the screen hosts the car’s connectivity features – the most impressive, perhaps, being an “Office Mode” that lets the driver host a video conference and presentations from inside the vehicle while it’s stationary.
Gentex rear view camera monitoring system for Aston Martin
Rear view mirrors with built-in video displays are starting to become more commonplace, and a particularly clever version of the tech will soon be gracing Aston Martin models.
According to developer Gentex, the system allows the driver to benefit from a “comprehensive view of the sides and rear of the vehicle”, thanks to the live video feeds provided by the roof and wing mirror-mounted cameras.
Gentex also claims the tech is fully production-ready, and will make its debut on the upcoming Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato limited edition grand tourer.
Honda Augmented Driving Concept
Honda has ambitions to reinvent the wheel, if its Augment Driving Concept at CES 2020 is anything to go by. While the cute open top two-seater has a steering wheel, the driver doesn’t turn it — the car’s speed is controlled by pushing the wheel forward and pulling it back, and the driver starts the car by patting the wheel twice after they buckle up.
Whether it ever appears on a road car is doubtful — Honda has no plans to put the tech into production.
Mercedes-Benz’s Avatar movie-inspired organic battery
Of the many wild features on James Cameron’s Avatar movie-inspired Mercedes Vision AVTR concept, the one that caught our eye was the claimed organic battery technology involved.
The battery’s graphene-based make-up negates the need for rare metals and materials, and means the battery cells are fully recyclable and biodegradable. Mercedes didn’t mention details on capacity or charging speeds, though, so don’t consider it a near-production breakthrough.
Nissan lightweight soundproofing material
It may not look like much, but Nissan’s new sound-deadening substance could be one of the most significant developments at CES this year. According to the Japanese car maker, the material is around a quarter of the weight of a conventional soundproofing material, yet is apparently just as good at suppressing engine and tyre noise as the rubber materials many car makers stuff around the engine bay of their vehicles.
The car maker also claims the lightweight material could be more cost-effective to produce, though we won’t know for sure until Nissan decides to start mass-producing it.
Otodo car-to-home connectivity for Renault
Renault has partnered up with the French tech firm Otodo to help usher in a new era of car-to-home connectivity. According to the car maker, the new system lets drivers control smart devices at their home from inside their vehicle. For example, using the pre-set “arriving home” setting, the driver can remotely turn on their home’s central heating, so it’s nice and warm for when they get back indoors.
It’s hardly revolutionary (Lamborghini is introducing an Amazon Alexa-based infotainment system to control smart home devices, for example) but unlike many of the other CES concept this will make production in the near future: Renault says it will be introducing the system to its Captur, Clio and Zoe models later this year.
Sony Vision-S concept car
One of the big surprises at CES can be found at the Sony booth, as the tech giant has unveiled an all-new concept vehicle. Though it isn’t a sign the company wants to start building cars anytime soon, Sony says the Vision-S does showcase the autonomous driving, infotainment, and exterior and interior sensor technologies it plans to make commercially available in the coming years.
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