The Consumer Electronic Show isn’t just about 4K TVs and drones. Even though the Detroit Auto Show kicks off at the end of this week, CES is stealing some of its thunder when it comes to future car tech. Here are nine kick-ass concepts showing up in Las Vegas this week.
Known as a “concept automated EV vehicle,” the much-buzzed-about NeuV offers a glimpse at what a commuter car of the near future might look like. Fueled by artificial intelligence, or the “emotion engine,” the boxy shape first and foremost suggests function over form, with a user-friendly, computer-infused interior designed to react to occupants. Honda has hinted that the NeuV would address traffic congestion, possibly through vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems. The Japanese automaker is also unveiling a concept motorcycle to showcase its robotics advancements as part of its theme of “Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem.”
Buttons are so 21st century. BMW is presenting HoloActive Touch, an evolution of its Gesture Control system currently found in the flagship 7-Series sedans. Just wave your hands and a free-floating projection will mimic interactions like a physical touchscreen. It’s a concept you might remember from the 2002 sci-fi flick Minority Report in that, similar to a head-up display, a reflection makes an image appear to float in midair. A control pad appears next to the steering wheel on the center console and can be configured to perform various functions via finger gestures. A camera tracks the position of the driver’s fingertips.
Ford has a goal to develop a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021, and it’s taking a bold step with the next-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicle. Utilizing the current Ford autonomous vehicle platform, engineers have upped the processing power with new computer hardware, electrical controls closer to production-ready, and adjustments to the sensor technology that allow the car to better see what’s around it. New LIDAR sensors have a sleeker design and more targeted field of vision, which enables the car to now use just two sensors rather than four, while providing just as much data.
The California-based and China-backed electric car maker has finally revealed its near-street-ready EV supercar, the autonomous FF 91. With a 0-60 time of 2.39 seconds, the FF 91 has officially become the world’s fastest production vehicle — besting the latest from Bentley, Ferrari, and, of course, Tesla. Armed with 1,050 horsepower, the FF 91 is the most connected vehicle ever built: Each passenger has their own profile of content. The FF 91 uses facial recognition to identify the driver and continuously learn driving behavior. It also takes into account weather conditions and other factors to forecast your needs and automatically adjust car settings for comfort, performance, and safety.
Over 30 sensors including cameras, radar, retractable LIDAR, and ultrasonic sensors combine to enable these features. With 130 kWh of power on board, the most powerful electric propulsion system and largest and densest battery of any car, the FF 91 can reach in excess of 378 miles of EPA adjusted range, eliminating range anxiety. Autonomous capabilities will enable driverless valet to drop you off and park itself, and automatically return when you summon it via an app.
While speculation over a next-generation Leaf or an all-new EV are rampant, Nissan is likely announcing Cortana integration for its cars. Microsoft has experimented with Cortana in cars for at least a year, having unveiled a Windows in the car concept in 2014. Microsoft has worked to integrate Cortana into the windshield of a car, allowing drivers to make restaurant reservations or see their favourite locations on a virtual map. Nissan previously used a special version of Windows in its cars to create its own interface and system. If the pair are working on Windows in vehicles, then we could be set to see exactly how Microsoft envisions Cortana inside cars later this week.
Toyota is showing off a new concept vehicle inside its high-tech cabin at CES, where it’s also introducing its new framework for developing connected vehicle and telematics systems. While purposefully vague, the concept, a product of Toyota’s Calty Design Center in California, might be an elaboration of what was already seen in the Lexus UX crossover concept from the Paris Motor Show.
The Chrysler Portal all-electric minivan is a conceptual take on the automaker’s idea of a future in autonomous EVs. Fiat-Chrysler designed the Portal to seat six with a promised range of 250 miles on a single charge. The company said only that the battery capacity would be 100 kilowatt-hours, although fast charging will add around 150 miles of range in about 20 minutes. Other tech FCA is touting at CES includes the various Pacifica Hybrid-exclusive technologies as well as the fourth-generation of its car connectivity system called Uconnect.
Autonomous Ioniq concept sedans are cruising the Las Vegas strip this week as Hyundai unleashes its self-driving vehicle along dedicated test routes throughout the city. Inside the Las Vegas Convention Center, Hyundai is offering a driverless journey with its immersive VR simulators. Additionally, the Ioniq Hybrid is displayed outfitted with a range of new enhancements.
Mercedes’s Concept EQ SUV and the Vision Van debuts stay in line with its new corporate strategy called “CASE,” or Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service, and Electric Drive. Working on pure battery electric drive systems, the tech found on the Concept EQ, a rival to the Tesla Model X, is expected to be carried into the future Mercedes cars. The Vision Van, meanwhile, is a study for the delivery van of the future, combining an electric power train and a trick integrated system for more efficient deliveries.