The Future of In-car Technology

Automologist MAC brings us the best of latest automotive technologies from the CES.

The headline may be a little on the grandiose side, but the annual Consumer Electronics Convention (CES) is once again on in Las Vegas and this is the show that normally sets the tone for what to expect in the coming year from the tech companies. Wearables and voice-activated assistants are once again on show along with super sleek televisions. This year, though, all of the household wizardry and gadgetry are being overshadowed by the cars—well, as long as you don’t count the massive power failure that left the LV Convention Centre in the dark for a couple of hours, that is.

There are plenty of annual auto shows where the car giants could launch their products and the upcoming Detroit Show will no doubt feature the more practical developments in the world of new cars, trucks and SUVs. But the CES has become the place to be seen, as Toyota, Kia and Ford have noticeable presences at the show, alongside new start-ups like Byton.

The Byton, somewhat similar to a BMW i3, me thinks.

Ford, BMW and Hyundai already have the Alexa platform in their cars and now Toyota is following suit, with an announcement that the voice integration offered by Alexa will be in a selection of their cars as well. So, what is voice integration? Well it is a way that lets you, on your way home from work, ask Alexa to turn on your lights or heating/cooling systems and let the cat out, assuming you have a house built in the very recent past that has been wired for the service, that is.

According to Hyundai this is what future cars will look like inside.

A number of technology providers are also showing off their self-park ideas. It would seem that the ability to parallel park your own car will soon be something only seen in movies. The feature is pretty much standard in many luxurious cars already and utilises a series of cameras and sensors to stop you crumpling the edges of your car. Now more than ever, though, the car will completely take over and park for you—sort of baby steps for the autonomous car movement.

Forget about the self-park though. How about using your eyes as the keys to your car? At the Genex Corp, they are trying to do just this with a rear-view mirror that scans your eyes and, assuming that you are an authorized user, will set the cars seats and mirrors, and even refine the music choices to your normal tastes as it turns the ignition switch for you. Not sure what you will do if you want to valet park your car though.

Toyota is showing off its e-Pallette concept, which they see as the future of mobility. The e-Pallette is an autonomous delivery truck that seems to have come straight from the set of i-Robot and can basically be configured to be a delivery truck, a mobile shop, a food truck, heck even a mobile hotel, which is the one that really gets my attention. Just imagine coming out of the pub a little worse for wear and being able to summon a mobile bed via some sort of app on your smartphone, and then wake up the next morning suitably refreshed and outside of your own house. Genius!

The e-Pallette, it really is genius.

Lyft, that mostly American competitor to Uber, stole a march on most of its competitors by actually having a fully functioning self-driving car on display, and in motion. The car, developed with Aptiv, isn’t truly self-driving, though, as the driver has to be alert. But according to all the reports I have read, the technology certainly did impress.

The vehicle that really set the show ablaze, though, was the Byton. Now, you will be forgiven if you have never heard of it as the company is a brand new startup populated by ex-Apple and ex-BMW executives, and the car does look exactly as I would expect from individuals from those two companies. It is truly futuristic with a touch screen in the middle of the steering wheel and a 49-inch wide visual display dashboard. Iris scanning technology replaces the traditional key ignition system and internal cameras recognise you and customise the car to your personal preferences. The car is clearly positioned to be a Tesla rival and on sale in 2019, but it does of course have some hurdles to overcome, such as price and distribution channels; oh, and lack of charging stations, of course.

Now, that is an interior. Clap your hands and open the fuel filler cap….errr, except that it is electric.

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