The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is quickly becoming the best show for automakers to debut all their new technology.
With the Detroit Auto Show just a few days away, it’s interesting to see automakers showing us their ideas and concepts for the future here at this Las Vegas event, which traditionally, isn’t even a real car show.
It can be difficult to make sense of all the craziness that happened at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, but there are definitely some overarching themes and trends that tie everything together. Here are reoccurring trends and cool stuff we saw at the show. You can expect these trends to seriously shape the future of the automotive industry.
Not only are most of the concept cars on display at CES being described as having some kind of autonomous features, but they’re also adhering to the SAE levels of autonomy too, so people can better understand just how self sufficient their cars are.
Basically, there are three levels of self-driving vehicles. Level 5 cars are truly autonomous, so no steering wheels or pedals are needed for these kinds of cars. Some of the crazy concepts shown off at CES promised to be that advanced, but so far, it’s just science fiction.
Level 4 autonomy is a bit more realistic. These cars can complete an entire journey in ideal driving conditions with barely any driver input. Making this easier, these cars have connected features that allow them to communicate with street lights and infrastructure. Expect these kinds of cars to show up in the next 10 years.
In the next five years, however, you can expect to see Level 3 autonomous cars, which can drive on their own in certain situations. These cars still need a driver behind the wheel who is paying attention and can take control as needed.
Autonomy was a huge buzzword at the show and we got a much better understanding of what kind of self driving cars are coming and how soon they’ll be here.
Automakers are also realizing that they can provide a lot of assistance to drivers in the car, and not just during the act of driving. While people seem to hate listening to computers, they seem to connect with easy-to-use personal assistants like Siri or Alexa. Predictably, these kinds of assistants have been namedropped quite a bit here at the show, in addition to Microsoft’s Cortana and the Google Assistant. Automakers are generally trying to use these digital assistants to make life easier for drivers and connect them better to other aspects of their lives. Expect these digital assistants to become much more common in cars in the near future.
Apps and Connectivity
Ford and Toyota announced the SmartDeviceLink consortium, an organization that will help automakers support more and more devices and apps in their cars. So far, the consortium includes automakers like Mazda, Suzuki, Peugot, and Subaru, while many suppliers including Harman and QNX are also on board.
Basically, the consortium agrees that having an open source standard for device connectivity will ensure better reliability and futureproofing. It also means that many of your apps and smartphone features will be available in cars soon.
Other automakers are using apps to replace car keys. Using an app, a driver can use their smartphone as a remote to lock their car, warm it up, remember where they parked it, or even check how much gas or electric range it has left.
Beyond that, there were a number of connected car apps that can help you pay for certain services without having to leave your car, like at gas stations and parking lots. Apps that work with cars are already pretty common, but we can expect them to become more advanced in the near future to make things much more convenient for drivers.
Most, if not all, of the concepts shown here are electrified in some way. Electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes were dreamed up at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. For the city crowd, Honda has its electric NeuV concept with a small 20 kWh battery that can also charge wirelessly and even make you money on the side.
For the family vehicle crowd, there’s the Chrysler Portal EV Concept, which packs a 100 kwh battery and adopts the DC Fast Charging standard. That will give this funky minivan about 250 miles of range, and it can recharge 150 miles in under 20 minutes.
And for those who like their electric cars blazing fast, Faraday Future spilled the beans on its new Tesla-fighter. With a 130 kWh battery and a range of 378 miles, this thing can hit 60 mph in just 2.39 seconds, which is quicker than most hypercars!
Finally, it seems like automakers and startups are looking at mobility, and not just as a vague concept, but the real idea of moving people around efficiently and affordably. For example, Hyundai showed us a cool exoskeleton that can help paraplegics walk again. Honda was also showing off its Unicub, a personal mobility device that will help people scoot around easily.
Hyundai also demonstrated a cool smart scooter that can help people travel that last mile when they get to their destination. Honda’s electric concept also had a cool smart skateboard attached to it for the same purpose, and other tiny foldable mobile devices were on display throughout the whole show.
Mobility is a big buzzword, and it really centers around the idea that car ownership will be a thing of the past. Ride sharing and last-mile transportation will soon become the norm, and if CES is any indication, it may happen sooner than we thought.
CES is a crazy show full of mind-blowing technology. While some of the concepts and ideas explored here seem far-fetched, others are very real and will be shaping the automotive landscape in our lifetimes.
Check out our coverage of the most important CES debuts in the playlist below!