The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest platform for tech companies to show off their wares. Most companies use it to display proof of concepts, generally driving the market towards their visions of the future. Automakers are relatively under-represented at CES, but that’s all set to change as the line between tech and automobiles get blurrier as autonomous cars and AI are all the rage in 2017.
Faraday Future FF91
The Silicon Valley startup automaker Faraday Future unveiled the FF91 crossover vehicle, which is slated for production in 2018. It’ll apparently do 0-60 MPH in a mind-numbing 2.4 seconds, with a maximum range of 435 miles. It can also recharge its fully-electric 1050 BHP power unit in just an hour. All of that sounds promising, but actual on-road viability depends on a lot of factors, not least Faraday Future’s financial solvency. Kudos to the designers though, as the FF91 is honestly one of the best looking concept cars we’ve seen in recent times, chalk full of brilliant detailing touches.
BMW's HoloActive Touch system
As if BMW’s i-Drive system wasn’t complicated enough already, the German marque is thinking of making it even more complicated. The HoloActive control system uses an advanced version of the gesture control system found in the current 7 series and expands it to controlling every aspect of the car. BMW says it’ll make driving safer as well, since the driver won’t have to look away to increase the volume.
Ford adopts Amazon Alexa AI and shows off Fusion Autonomous Vehicle
Ford is teaming up with Amazon to incorporate their Alexa AI and voice control system into on-road cars in the near future. With Ford Europe going strong, the Alexa system is set to change the way even a basic hatchback communicates with its user. At the same time, Ford has its sights on autonomous vehicles, opting to display the self-driving Fusion Hybrid development vehicle to the crowd at Las Vegas CES.
Toyota’s Concept-i was the highlight of the car manufacturers at CES, complete with its own artificial intelligence agent called Yui. With Yui on-board, the car will learn the habits of the user and optimise the experience automatically. It’ll also communicate with the user via audio and lighting, and has the ability to warn drivers of traffic, impending doom and other useful things.
Honda's self-balancing motorbike
No one will ever fall off a motorbike ever again, unless they’re quite adamant - as long as they ride Honda’s ride-assist technology equipped motorbike. The self-balancing bike doesn’t require a kickstand too stand upright, and comes with a feature that lets the bike follow the owner around. Why anyone would want a pet motorbike that doesn’t fall over but follows you around is a question we’re yet to ask.
Audi and Nvidia join forces to develop AI platform
Nvidia usually makes computer chips for graphic units for Pc’s, but they’re now expanding into developing Artificial Intelligence for specific applications. Audi, Mercedes Benz and a couple of Chinese manufacturers have signed on with the chip maker to develop AI platforms that learn users’ preferences and adjust the vehicle settings accordingly. With so many manufacturers signing up with Nvidia, we can expect the platform to be dynamic and somewhat open-source, sort of like Android for cars.
Honda's ride sharing city car
Alongside the self-balancing bike, Honda displayed the NeuV, which might just be the worst name ever tagged onto a concept car. Name stands for “New Electric Urban Vehicle”, and it’s designed in a way that minimises the number of cars on the road. It does this by picking up and dropping off passengers when the owner isn’t using it - we see a lot of issues with this model but then Honda won’t actually bring it to production before humans finally stop being nasty to each other and can actually get along. So...never.
Bosch shows off a “connected” automobile
The connected car sector's potential value to the auto industry is supposedly more than US $128 billion, and Bosch, the largest auto-parts supplier in the world, wants in on the business. Their “connected car” concept at this year’s CES has facial recognition that can identify owners and adjust preferences, and can be connected to other smart appliances such as mobile devices and even homes. The on-board human machine interface also recoginses more phrases and expressions than current systems, making life much easier for occupants.